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Title: Positive selection in ASPM is correlated with cerebral cortex evolution across primates but not with whole-brain size
Authors: Ali, F.
Meier, R. 
Keywords: ASPM
Cerebral cortex evolution
Maximum likelihood
Positive selection
Issue Date: Nov-2008
Citation: Ali, F., Meier, R. (2008-11). Positive selection in ASPM is correlated with cerebral cortex evolution across primates but not with whole-brain size. Molecular Biology and Evolution 25 (11) : 2247-2250. ScholarBank@NUS Repository.
Abstract: The rapid increase of brain size is a key event in human evolution. Abnormal spindle-like microcephaly associated (ASPM) is discussed as a major candidate gene for explaining the exceptionally large brain in humans but ASPM's role remains controversial. Here we use codon-specific models and a comparative approach to test this candidate gene that was initially identified in Homo-chimp comparisons. We demonstrate that accelerated evolution of ASPM (ω = 4.7) at 16 amino acid sites occurred in 9 primate lineages with major changes in relative cerebral cortex size. However, ASPM's evolution is not correlated with major changes in relative whole-brain or cerebellum sizes. Our results suggest that a single candidate gene such as ASPM can influence a specific component of the brain across large clades through changes in a few amino acid sites. We furthermore illustrate the power of using continuous phenotypic variability across primates to rigorously test candidate genes that have been implicated in the evolution of key human traits. © The Author 2008. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Society for Molecular Biology and Evolution. All rights reserved.
Source Title: Molecular Biology and Evolution
ISSN: 07374038
DOI: 10.1093/molbev/msn184
Appears in Collections:Staff Publications

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