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Timothy McDougald

Posts: 1030
Joined: Dec. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Aug. 05 2008,20:24   

Paging Dr. Egnor!

Metabolic changes in schizophrenia and human brain evolution


Despite decades of research, the molecular changes responsible for the evolution of human cognitive abilities remain unknown. Comparative evolutionary studies provide detailed information about DNA sequence and mRNA expression differences between humans and other primates but, in the absence of other information, it has proved very difficult to identify molecular pathways relevant to human cognition.

Here, we compare changes in gene expression and metabolite concentrations in the human brain and compare them to the changes seen in a disorder known to affect human cognitive abilities, schizophrenia. We find that both genes and metabolites relating to energy metabolism and energy-expensive brain functions are altered in schizophrenia and, at the same time, appear to have changed rapidly during recent human evolution, probably as a result of positive selection.

Our findings, along with several previous studies, suggest that the evolution of human cognitive abilities was accompanied by adaptive changes in brain metabolism, potentially pushing the human brain to the limit of its metabolic capabilities.

The pdf is freely downloadable.

On a related note:

A Novel Molecular Solution for Ultraviolet Light Detection in Caenorhabditis elegans

For many organisms the ability to transduce light into cellular signals is crucial for survival. Light stimulates DNA repair and metabolism changes in bacteria, avoidance responses in single-cell organisms, attraction responses in plants, and both visual and nonvisual perception in animals. Despite these widely differing responses, in all of nature there are only six known families of proteins that can transduce light. Although the roundworm Caenorhabditis elegans has none of the known light transduction systems, we show here that C. elegans strongly accelerates its locomotion in response to blue or shorter wavelengths of light, with maximal responsiveness to ultraviolet light. Our data suggest that C. elegans uses this light response to escape the lethal doses of sunlight that permeate its habitat. Short-wavelength light drives locomotion by bypassing two critical signals, cyclic adenosine monophosphate (cAMP) and diacylglycerol (DAG), that neurons use to shape and control behaviors. C. elegans mutants lacking these signals are paralyzed and unresponsive to harsh physical stimuli in ambient light, but short-wavelength light rapidly rescues their paralysis and restores normal levels of coordinated locomotion. This light response is mediated by LITE-1, a novel ultraviolet light receptor that acts in neurons and is a member of the invertebrate Gustatory receptor (Gr) family. Heterologous expression of the receptor in muscle cells is sufficient to confer light responsiveness on cells that are normally unresponsive to light. Our results reveal a novel molecular solution for ultraviolet light detection and an unusual sensory modality in C. elegans that is unlike any previously described light response in any organism.

I haven't read this later one yet but PhysOrg says it has something to do with depression, schizophrenia and insomnia in humans...

Church burning ebola boy

FTK: I Didn't answer your questions because it beats the hell out of me.

PaV: I suppose for me to be pried away from what I do to focus long and hard on that particular problem would take, quite honestly, hundreds of thousands of dollars to begin to pique my interest.

  1753 replies since July 16 2008,08:10 < Next Oldest | Next Newest >  

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