Neocortex expansion is linked to size variations in gene families with chemotaxis, cell-cell signalling and immune response functions in mammals

Atahualpa Castillo-Morales, Jimena Monzón-Sandoval, Alexandra A de Sousa, Araxi O. Urrutia, Humberto Gutierrez

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Increased brain size is thought to have played an important role in the evolution of mammals and is a highly variable trait across lineages. Variations in brain size are closely linked to corresponding variations in the size of the neocortex, a distinct mammalian evolutionary innovation. The genomic features that explain and/or accompany variations in the relative size of the neocortex remain unknown. By comparing the genomes of 28 mammalian species, we show that neocortical expansion relative to the rest of the brain is associated with variations in gene family size (GFS) of gene families that are significantly enriched in biological functions associated with chemotaxis, cell-cell signalling and immune response. Importantly, we find that previously reported GFS variations associated with increased brain size are largely accounted for by the stronger link between neocortex expansion and variations in the size of gene families. Moreover, genes within these families are more prominently expressed in the human neocortex during early compared with adult development. These results suggest that changes in GFS underlie morphological adaptations during brain evolution in mammalian lineages.

LanguageEnglish
Article number3489039
JournalOpen Biology
Volume6
Issue number10
DOIs
StatusPublished - 2016

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Cell signaling
Mammals
Neocortex
Chemotaxis
Genes
Brain
Genome
Innovation

Keywords

  • Brain size
  • Encephalization
  • Gene family size
  • Neocortex

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Immunology
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)

Cite this

Neocortex expansion is linked to size variations in gene families with chemotaxis, cell-cell signalling and immune response functions in mammals. / Castillo-Morales, Atahualpa; Monzón-Sandoval, Jimena; de Sousa, Alexandra A; Urrutia, Araxi O.; Gutierrez, Humberto.

In: Open Biology, Vol. 6, No. 10, 3489039, 2016.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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