chimp photo

You will see from the posts below that there is only a 1-2% difference in DNA sequence between human and chimpanzee and 80% of the proteins of human and chimpanzee are different. The burning question is what are the differences (if any) between the genes expressed in embryogenesis, because these are the genes most likely responsible for the radical phenotype differences between human and chimp. The next step for me is to go to the gene databases and compare the genes below in human and chimp. These genes are all different from the 10 genes listed in the post below this one.

1. Changes in cerebral cortex size are governed by fibroblast growth factor during embryogenesis - We show that fibroblast growth factor 2 (FGF2) and FGF receptors are transiently expressed by cells of the pseudostratified ventricular epithelium (PVE) during early neurogenesis. A single microinjection of FGF2 into cerebral ventricles of rat embryos at E15.5 increased the volume and total number of neurons in the adult cerebral cortex by 18% and 87%, respectively. Microinjection of FGF2 by the end of neurogenesis, at E20.5, selectively increased the number of glia. Mice lacking the FGF2 gene had fewer cortical neurons and glia at maturity. BrdU studies in FGF2-microinjected and FGF2-null animals suggested that FGF2 increases the proportion of dividing cells in the PVE without affecting the cell-cycle length. Thus, FGF2 increases the number of rounds of division of cortical progenitors.

2. Ventricular zone gene-1 (vzg-1) encodes a lysophosphatidic acid receptor expressed in neurogenic regions of the developing cerebral cortex. - Neocortical neuroblast cell lines were used to clone G-protein-coupled receptor (GPCR) genes to study signaling mechanisms regulating cortical neurogenesis. One putative GPCR gene displayed an in situ expression pattern enriched in cortical neurogenic regions and was therefore named ventricular zone gene-1 (vzg-1). These analyses identify the vzg-1 gene product as a receptor for LPA, suggesting the operation of LPA signaling mechanisms in cortical neurogenesis. Vzg-1 therefore provides a link between extracellular LPA and the activation of LPA-mediated signaling pathways through a single receptor and will allow new investigations into LPA signaling both in neural and nonneural systems.

3. An RNA gene expressed during cortical development evolved rapidly in humans - The developmental and evolutionary mechanisms behind the emergence of human-specific brain features remain largely unknown. However, the recent ability to compare our genome to that of our closest relative, the chimpanzee, provides new avenues to link genetic and phenotypic changes in the evolution of the human brain. We devised a ranking of regions in the human genome that show significant evolutionary acceleration. Here we report that the most dramatic of these ‘human accelerated regions’, HAR1, is part of a novel RNA gene (HAR1F) that is expressed specifically in Cajal–Retzius neurons in the developing human neocortex from 7 to 19 gestational weeks, a crucial period for cortical neuron specification and migration. HAR1F is co-expressed with reelin, a product of Cajal–Retzius neurons that is of fundamental importance in specifying the six-layer structure of the human cortex. HAR1 and the other human accelerated regions provide new candidates in the search for uniquely human biology.

4. Neuronal Subtype-Specific Genes that Control Corticospinal Motor Neuron Development In Vivo - Within the vertebrate nervous system, the presence of many different lineages of neurons and glia complicates the molecular characterization of single neuronal populations. In order to elucidate molecular mechanisms underlying the specification and development of corticospinal motor neurons (CSMN)..  Loss-of-function experiments in null mutant mice for Ctip2 (also known as Bcl11b), one of the newly characterized genes, demonstrate that it plays a critical role in the development of CSMN axonal projections to the spinal cord in vivo, confirming that we identified central genetic determinants of the CSMN population.

5. Functional and Evolutionary Insights into Human Brain Development through Global Transcriptome Analysis - Our understanding of the evolution, formation, and pathological disruption of human brain circuits is impeded by a lack of comprehensive data on the developing brain transcriptome. A whole-genome, exon-level expression analysis of 13 regions from left and right sides of the mid-fetal human brain revealed that 76% of genes are expressed, and 44% of these are differentially regulated. Of particular relevance to cognitive specializations, we have characterized the transcriptional landscapes of prefrontal cortex and perisylvian speech and language areas, which exhibit a population-level global expression symmetry. We show that differentially expressed genes are more frequently associated with human-specific evolution of putative cis-regulatory elements. These data provide a wealth of biological insights into the complex transcriptional and molecular underpinnings of human brain development and evolution.

6. Genomic imprinting and the differential roles of parental genomes in brain development - Certain genes are expressed either from the maternal or the paternal genome as a result of genomic imprinting, a process that confers functional differences on parental genomes during mammalian development. In this study we focus on the cumulative effects of imprinted genes on brain development by examining the fate of androgenetic (Ag: duplicated paternal genome) and parthenogenetic/gynogenetic (Pg/Gg: duplicated maternal genome) cells in chimeric embryos. Striking cell autonomous differences in the phenotypic properties of the uniparental cells were observed. Ag cells contributed substantially to the hypothalamic structures and not the cortex. By contrast, Pg/Gg cells contributed substantially to the cortex, striatum and hippocampus but not to the hypothalamic structures. Furthermore growth of the brain was enhanced by Pg/Gg and retarded by Ag cells. We propose that genomic imprinting may be responsible for a change in strategy controlling brain development in mammals. In particular, genomic imprinting may have facilitated a rapid non-linear expansion of the brain, especially the cortex, during development over evolutionary time.

7. Cell-cycle control and cortical development - The spatio-temporal timing of the last round of mitosis, followed by the migration of neuroblasts to the cortical plate leads to the formation of the six-layered cortex that is subdivided into functionally defined cortical areas. Whereas many of the cellular and molecular mechanisms have been established in rodents, there are a number of unique features that require further elucidation in primates. Recent findings both in rodents and in primates indicate that regulation of the cell cycle, specifically of the G1 phase has a crucial role in controlling area-specific rates of neuron production and the generation of cytoarchitectonic maps… Embryonic thalamocortical projections are likely to influence areal specification during early stages of corticogenesis by modulating proliferation.

8. Embryonic signaling centers expressing BMP, WNT and FGF proteins interact to pattern the cerebral cortex - Because noggin can induce Fgf8 expression, we examined noggin and BMP signaling in the Emx2 mutant. As the telencephalic vesicle closed, Nog expression was expanded and BMP activity reduced, potentially leading to FGF8 upregulation. Our findings point to a cross-regulation of BMP, FGF, and WNT signaling in the early telencephalon, integrated by EMX2, and required for normal cortical development. When endogenous BMP signaling is inhibited by noggin, robust Fgf8 expression appears ectopically in the cortical primordium.

9. Regional and Cellular Patterns of reelin mRNA Expression in the Forebrain of the Developing and Adult Mouse - The reelin gene encodes an extracellular protein that is crucial for neuronal migration in laminated brain regions. During embryogenesis,reelin was detected in the cerebral cortex in Cajal-Retzius cells but not in the GABAergic neurons of layer I. At prenatal stages, reelin was also expressed in the olfactory bulb, and striatum and in restricted nuclei in the ventral telencephalon, hypothalamus, thalamus, and pretectum. At postnatal stages, reelin transcripts gradually disappeared from Cajal-Retzius cells, at the same time as they appeared in subsets of GABAergic neurons distributed throughout neocortical and hippocampal layers. In other telencephalic and diencephalic regions,reelin expression decreased steadily during the postnatal period.

10. Independent Expression of the α and β c-erbA Genes in Developing Rat Brain - Thyroid hormone is important for normal brain development. Cellular responses to thyroid hormone are mediated by multiple nuclear receptors, classified into α- and β-subtypes. In the rat, expression of both the α and β genes results in several translation products.  The differential temporal and spatial distribution as well as coexpression at comparable levels in certain brain regions suggest different roles for the c-erbA proteins during brain development and in the mature animal.