Project description:Cortical thickness has been investigated since the beginning of the 20th century, but we do not know how similar the cortical thickness profiles among humans are. In this study, the local similarity of cortical thickness profiles was investigated using sliding window methods. Here, we show that approximately 5% of the cortical thickness profiles are similarly expressed among humans while 45% of the cortical thickness profiles show a high level of heterogeneity. Therefore, heterogeneity is the rule, not the exception. Cortical thickness profiles of somatosensory homunculi and the anterior insula are consistent among humans, while the cortical thickness profiles of the motor homunculus are more variable. Cortical thickness profiles of homunculi that code for muscle position and skin stimulation are highly similar among humans despite large differences in sex, education, and age. This finding suggests that the structure of these cortices remains well preserved over a lifetime. Our observations possibly relativize opinions on cortical plasticity.
Project description:Researchers are exploring whether animals share with humans something like a metacognitive capacity. Though some results point to human-animal continuities in this domain, they face the dominant criticism that animals' performances might be associative. A persistent problem is that animal-metacognition paradigms present static environments of risk and reward that may foster inflexible and conditioned responding. Those environments do not challenge animals to show the flexibility in their decision strategies that could indicate an antecedent capacity to metacognition. Accordingly, we tested macaques and humans on an uncertainty-monitoring paradigm in which risk changed dynamically. Participants classified stimuli of different difficulties while also choosing when to use a cashout response to collect the accumulated rewards that would be forfeit on a discrimination error. Macaques (Macaca mulatta) and humans flexibly adjusted their decision criteria to achieve appropriate protection against the cost of error that could differ depending on trial difficulty and the number of rewards at risk. In particular, monkeys widened their cashout-response region as their accumulated rewards increased, providing more protection against a more costly error. These findings demonstrate a new continuity between humans' and animals' uncertainty systems. They reveal a calibration by macaques of present risk to trial difficulty tolerated. They show that animals' uncertainty-monitoring and risk-management systems have substantial trial-by-trial flexibility.
Project description:Genetic differences that specify unique aspects of human evolution have typically been identified by comparative analyses between the genomes of humans and closely related primates, including more recently the genomes of archaic hominins. Not all regions of the genome, however, are equally amenable to such study. Recurrent copy number variation (CNV) at chromosome 16p11.2 accounts for approximately 1% of cases of autism and is mediated by a complex set of segmental duplications, many of which arose recently during human evolution. Here we reconstruct the evolutionary history of the locus and identify bolA family member 2 (BOLA2) as a gene duplicated exclusively in Homo sapiens. We estimate that a 95-kilobase-pair segment containing BOLA2 duplicated across the critical region approximately 282 thousand years ago (ka), one of the latest among a series of genomic changes that dramatically restructured the locus during hominid evolution. All humans examined carried one or more copies of the duplication, which nearly fixed early in the human lineage--a pattern unlikely to have arisen so rapidly in the absence of selection (P?<?0.0097). We show that the duplication of BOLA2 led to a novel, human-specific in-frame fusion transcript and that BOLA2 copy number correlates with both RNA expression (r?=?0.36) and protein level (r?=?0.65), with the greatest expression difference between human and chimpanzee in experimentally derived stem cells. Analyses of 152 patients carrying a chromosome 16p11. rearrangement show that more than 96% of breakpoints occur within the H. sapiens-specific duplication. In summary, the duplicative transposition of BOLA2 at the root of the H. sapiens lineage about 282?ka simultaneously increased copy number of a gene associated with iron homeostasis and predisposed our species to recurrent rearrangements associated with disease.
Project description:Protein-coding regions in a genome evolve by sequence divergence and gene gain and loss, altering the gene content of the organism. However, it is not well understood how this has given rise to the enormous diversity of metazoa present today.To obtain a global view of human genomic evolution, we quantify the divergence of proteins by functional category at different evolutionary distances from human.This analysis highlights some general systems-level characteristics of human evolution: regulatory processes, such as signal transducers, transcription factors and receptors, have a high degree of plasticity, while core processes, such as metabolism, transport and protein synthesis, are largely conserved. Additionally, this study reveals a dynamic picture of selective forces at short, medium and long evolutionary timescales. Certain functional categories, such as 'development' and 'organogenesis', exhibit temporal patterns of sequence divergence in eukaryotes relative to human. This framework for a grammar of human evolution supports previously postulated theories of robustness and evolvability.
Project description:We investigated the evidence of recent positive selection in the human phototransduction system at single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) and gene level.SNP genotyping data from the International HapMap Project for European, Eastern Asian, and African populations was used to discover differences in haplotype length and allele frequency between these populations. Numeric selection metrics were computed for each SNP and aggregated into gene-level metrics to measure evidence of recent positive selection. The level of recent positive selection in phototransduction genes was evaluated and compared to a set of genes shown previously to be under recent selection, and a set of highly conserved genes as positive and negative controls, respectively.Six of 20 phototransduction genes evaluated had gene-level selection metrics above the 90th percentile: RGS9, GNB1, RHO, PDE6G, GNAT1, and SLC24A1. The selection signal across these genes was found to be of similar magnitude to the positive control genes and much greater than the negative control genes.There is evidence for selective pressure in the genes involved in retinal phototransduction, and traces of this selective pressure can be demonstrated using SNP-level and gene-level metrics of allelic variation. We hypothesize that the selective pressure on these genes was related to their role in low light vision and retinal adaptation to ambient light changes. Uncovering the underlying genetics of evolutionary adaptations in phototransduction not only allows greater understanding of vision and visual diseases, but also the development of patient-specific diagnostic and intervention strategies.
Project description:In vivo testing is a mandatory last step in scaffold development. Agile longitudinal noninvasive real-time monitoring of stem cell behavior in biomaterials implanted in live animals should facilitate the development of scaffolds for tissue engineering. We report on a noninvasive bioluminescence imaging (BLI) procedure for simultaneous monitoring of changes in the expression of multiple genes to evaluate scaffold performance in vivo. Adipose tissue-derived stromal mensenchymal cells were dually labeled with Renilla red fluorescent protein and firefly green fluorescent protein chimeric reporters regulated by cytomegalovirus and tissue-specific promoters, respectively. Labeled cells were induced to differentiate in vitro and in vivo, by seeding in demineralized bone matrices (DBMs) and monitored by BLI. Imaging results were validated by RT-polymerase chain reaction and histological procedures. The proposed approach improves molecular imaging and measurement of changes in gene expression of cells implanted in live animals. This procedure, applicable to the simultaneous analysis of multiple genes from cells seeded in DBMs, should facilitate engineering of scaffolds for tissue repair.
Project description:At the center of the debate on the emergence of modern humans and their spread throughout the globe is the question of whether archaic Homo lineages contributed to the modern human gene pool, and more importantly, whether such contributions impacted the evolutionary adaptation of our species. A major obstacle to answering this question is that low levels of admixture with archaic lineages are not expected to leave extensive traces in the modern human gene pool because of genetic drift. Loci that have undergone strong positive selection, however, offer a unique opportunity to identify low-level admixture with archaic lineages, provided that the introgressed archaic allele has risen to high frequency under positive selection. The gene microcephalin (MCPH1) regulates brain size during development and has experienced positive selection in the lineage leading to Homo sapiens. Within modern humans, a group of closely related haplotypes at this locus, known as haplogroup D, rose from a single copy approximately 37,000 years ago and swept to exceptionally high frequency (approximately 70% worldwide today) because of positive selection. Here, we examine the origin of haplogroup D. By using the interhaplogroup divergence test, we show that haplogroup D likely originated from a lineage separated from modern humans approximately 1.1 million years ago and introgressed into humans by approximately 37,000 years ago. This finding supports the possibility of admixture between modern humans and archaic Homo populations (Neanderthals being one possibility). Furthermore, it buttresses the important notion that, through such adminture, our species has benefited evolutionarily by gaining new advantageous alleles. The interhaplogroup divergence test developed here may be broadly applicable to the detection of introgression at other loci in the human genome or in genomes of other species.
Project description:Analysis of ex vivo isolated lymphatic endothelial cells from the dermis of patients to define type 2 diabetes-induced changes. Results preveal aberrant dermal lymphangiogenesis and provide insight into its role in the pathogenesis of persistent skin inflammation in type 2 diabetes. The ex vivo dLEC transcriptome reveals a dramatic influence of the T2D environment on multiple molecular and cellular processes, mirroring the phenotypic changes seen in T2D affected skin. The positively and negatively correlated dLEC transcripts directly cohere to prolonged inflammatory periods and reduced infectious resistance of patients´ skin. Further, lymphatic vessels might be involved in tissue remodeling processes during T2D induced skin alterations associated with impaired wound healing and altered dermal architecture. Hence, dermal lymphatic vessels might be directly associated with T2D disease promotion. Overall design: Global gene expression profile of normal dermal lymphatic endothelial cells (ndLECs) compared to dermal lymphatic endothelial cells derived from type 2 diabetic patients (dLECs).Quadruplicate biological samples were analyzed from human lymphatic endothelial cells (4 x diabetic; 4 x non-diabetic). subsets: 1 disease state set (dLECs), 1 control set (ndLECs)