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Evolutionarily Preserved Signature Found In The Primate Brain

Date:
June 24, 2008
Source:
Uppsala University
Summary:
Researchers have determined that there are hundreds of biological differences between the sexes when it comes to gene expression in the cerebral cortex of humans and other primates. These findings indicate that some of these differences arose a very long time ago and have been preserved through evolution. These conserved differences constitute a signature of sex differences in the brain.

Researchers have determined that there are hundreds of biological differences between the sexes when it comes to gene expression in the cerebral cortex of humans and other primates. These findings indicate that some of these differences arose a very long time ago and have been preserved through evolution.

These conserved differences constitute a signature of sex differences in the brain.

Many more obvious gender differences have been preserved throughout primate evolution; examples include average body size and weight, and genitalia design. This study, believed to be the first of its kind, focuses on gene expression within the cerebral cortex. The cerebral cortex is involved in many of the more complex functions in both humans and other primates, including memory, attentiveness, thought processes and language.

The researchers measured gene expression in the brains of male and female primates from three species: humans, macaques, and marmosets. To measure activity of specific genes, the products of genes (RNA) obtained from the brain of each animal were hybridized to microarrays containing thousands of DNA clones coding for thousands of genes. The authors also investigated DNA sequence differences among primates for genes showing different levels of expression between the sexes.

"Knowledge about gender differences is important for many reasons. For example, this information may be used in the future to calculate medical dosages, as well as for other treatments of diseases or damage to the brain," says team leader Professor Elena Jazin, at Uppsala University, Sweden.

In addition to the results mentioned above, the researchers also report on evolutionary speeds in genes that have been identified as male or female-oriented. This could provide clues about the power of natural selection processes during the evolution of primates.

Lead author Björn Reinius notes that the study does not determine whether these differences in gene expression are in any way functionally significant. Such questions remain to be answered by future studies.

 

Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Uppsala University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Reinius B, Saetre P, Leonard JA, Blekhman R, Merino-Martinez R, et al. Evolutionarily Conserved Sexual Signature in the Primate Brain. PLoS Genetics, 4(6): e1000100 [link]

Cite This Page:

Uppsala University. "Evolutionarily Preserved Signature Found In The Primate Brain." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 24 June 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/06/080619203301.htm>.
Uppsala University. (2008, June 24). Evolutionarily Preserved Signature Found In The Primate Brain. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 31, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/06/080619203301.htm
Uppsala University. "Evolutionarily Preserved Signature Found In The Primate Brain." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/06/080619203301.htm (accessed July 31, 2014).

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