Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Mouse With 'Humanized Version' Of Human Language Gene Provides Clues To Language Development

Date:
June 24, 2009
Source:
Helmholtz Zentrum München - German Research Center for Environmental Health
Summary:
Scientists have made a major contribution to understanding human language development. Using a comprehensive screening method, they studied a mouse model carrying a "humanized version" of a key gene associated with human language.

Ffrom left: Valérie Gailus-Durner, Helmut Fuchs, Martin Hrabé de Angelis.
Credit: Photo by Bernd Müller

Scientists of the German Mouse Clinic at Helmholtz Zentrum München have made a major contribution to understanding human language development. Using a comprehensive screening method, they studied a mouse model carrying a “humanized version” of a key gene associated with human language.

In the brains of the mice the researchers found alterations which may be closely linked to speech and language development. Their analyses comprise part of an international study led by the Leipzig Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology. The findings have been published in the current issue of the journal Cell.

Scientists of the German Mouse Clinic at Helmholtz Zentrum München have generated and analyzed a mouse model in which parts of the human Foxp2 gene were introduced. Foxp2 is known to be a key gene for language. Since the human and chimpanzee lineages diverged, only minimal genetic alterations have occurred, even with reference to the mouse: The alterations, as scientists surmised, are closely associated with speech and language ability. However, proof on a functional level has been lacking until now.

The Helmholtz scientists in the German Mouse Clinic conduct comprehensive analyses to elucidate which organs are influenced by a gene – in this case the Foxp2 gene. "It is rare for a gene to have only one function," explained Professor Martin Hrabé de Angelis, director of the German Mouse Clinic. That is why a comprehensive research approach like that of the German Mouse Clinic is so crucial – to ensure that relevant gene functions can be identified in the mouse phenotype.

The study of the Foxp2 mice was funded within the scope of the National Genome Research Network (NGFN). As with each mouse lineage studied in the German Mouse Clinic, the Helmholtz scientists analyzed the Foxp2 mice by screening for more than 300 parameters, including the ability to see and hear, bone density, important metabolic functions and a number of neurological functions. The mice carrying the humanized Foxp2 gene showed no physiological abnormalities. However, behavioral tests showed an altered exploratory behavior and reduced movement activity – both results point to altered brain functions. Further investigations carried out by the colleagues in Leipzig supported and confirmed the findings.

In a second step to further substantiate this hypothesis, the Helmholtz scientists analyzed the heterozygous knockout mouse model in which one of the normally two copies of the Foxp2 gene is missing. This loss leads to serious changes: The ability of the mice to hear and learn is diminished in comparison to their healthy littermates; they have more fat and less muscle, and they eat more and consume more energy. Moreover, they have altered blood parameters.

"We were able to show that the Foxp2 gene has significant influence on various organ systems," Martin Hrabé de Angelis said. "Our research supports the hypothesis of our colleagues in Leipzig that specifically these alterations in the brain were the evolutionary step that gave humans the advantage of speech and language." Furthermore, the involvement of the Hrabé de Angelis team in the Leipzig study demonstrates the usefulness of the German Mouse Clinic. Only through broad-based, comprehensive analysis can scientists recognize even unexpected effects of genetic defects and thus identify additional functions of known genes.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Helmholtz Zentrum München - German Research Center for Environmental Health. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Enard et al. A Humanized Version of Foxp2 Affects Cortico-Basal Ganglia Circuits in Mice. Cell, 2009; 137 (5): 961 DOI: 10.1016/j.cell.2009.03.041

Cite This Page:

Helmholtz Zentrum München - German Research Center for Environmental Health. "Mouse With 'Humanized Version' Of Human Language Gene Provides Clues To Language Development." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 24 June 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/06/090624093315.htm>.
Helmholtz Zentrum München - German Research Center for Environmental Health. (2009, June 24). Mouse With 'Humanized Version' Of Human Language Gene Provides Clues To Language Development. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 28, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/06/090624093315.htm
Helmholtz Zentrum München - German Research Center for Environmental Health. "Mouse With 'Humanized Version' Of Human Language Gene Provides Clues To Language Development." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/06/090624093315.htm (accessed July 28, 2014).

Share This




More Plants & Animals News

Monday, July 28, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Raw: Sea Turtle Hatchlings Emerge from Nest

Raw: Sea Turtle Hatchlings Emerge from Nest

AP (July 27, 2014) — A live-streaming webcam catches loggerhead sea turtle hatchlings emerging from a nest in the Florida Keys. (July 27) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Trees Could Save More Than 850 Lives Each Year

Trees Could Save More Than 850 Lives Each Year

Newsy (July 27, 2014) — A national study conducted by the USDA Forest Service found that trees collectively save more than 850 lives on an annual basis. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
What's To Blame For Worst Ebola Outbreak In History?

What's To Blame For Worst Ebola Outbreak In History?

Newsy (July 27, 2014) — A U.S. doctor has tested positive for the deadly Ebola virus, as the worst-ever outbreak continues to grow. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
The New York Times Backs Pot Legalization

The New York Times Backs Pot Legalization

Newsy (July 27, 2014) — The New York Times has officially endorsed the legalization of marijuana, but why now, and to what end? Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins