A simple genetic mutation amplified the number of neurons present in our cerebral cortex, and in particular in its anterior part where complex cognitive operations take place, shows a study carried out by German researchers from the Max-Planck Institute in Dresden published in
This slight genetic change was identified by comparing the sequence of our genome with that of Neanderthal man, the closest human species to us, which disappeared less than 40,000 years ago.
Among the hundred proteins differing from those of Neanderthals, an enzyme called TKTL1 caught the attention of researchers.
Its strong presence in the fetal cells at the origin of the neurons of the cerebral cortex suggested an important role in the development of the latter.
In addition, TKTL1 is also found in certain cancer cells, which are also capable of proliferating strongly.
To verify its exact role, Wieland Huttner's team introduced the human TKTL1 gene into…
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