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Researchers show human brain changes more dramatically than other primates

February 06, 16:35 UTC+3 MOSCOW

The main scientific objective of the study was to find out how alternative splicing changed during the course of a living body’s development, if various primates were contrasted with humans

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© Sergei Bobylev/TASS

MOSCOW, February 6. /TASS/. Scientists from the Skolkovo Institute of Science and Technology (Skoltech) (http://www.skoltech.ru/en/about/) together with researchers from China compared the changes in the regulation of functioning genes located in the brains of a human, a macaque, and a chimpanzee of different ages, Skoltech’s press office reported. The study indicates that the changes occurring in the human brain during the course of a lifetime are more pronounced than in other primates. The results of the research were published in the journal RNA.

The researchers examined alternative splicing - a process at which one gene encodes several different proteins. Previous studies have proven that alternative splicing evolves under the normal development but also because of various diseases, with these modifications playing an important role in the body’s functioning. Other studies have demonstrated that alternative splicing rapidly changes during the course of evolution.

The main scientific objective of this particular study was to find out how alternative splicing changed during the course of a living body’s development, if various primates were contrasted with humans. The researchers from Skoltech and Shanghai University analyzed alternative splicing for 168 test samples taken from the brain of a human, a chimpanzee, and rhesus macaques.

It turns out that differential splicing for a human is notably more changeable during the course of a lifespan than for other primates. "It is well-established that when compared to other primates, a human comes into the world prematurely. One might suggest that the alternatives specific for a human that we observed are particular for earlier stages of the brain’s formation and contribute to the flexibility of the brain typical for a human," stated Skoltech Professor Mikhail Gelfand.

In the scholarly article, researchers noted that the functional meaning of these results should be the scope of future studies.

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