Multiple Innovations in Genetic and Epigenetic Mechanisms Cooperate to Underpin Human Brain Evolution

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Abstract

Our knowledge of how the human brain differs from those of other species in terms of evolutionary adaptations and functionality is limited. Comparative genomics reveal valuable insight, especially the expansion of human-specific noncoding regulatory and repeat-containing regions. Recent studies add to our knowledge of evolving brain function by investigating cellular mechanisms such as protein emergence, extensive sequence editing, retrotransposon activity, dynamic epigenetic modifications, and multiple noncoding RNA functions. These findings present an opportunity to combine newly discovered genetic and epigenetic mechanisms with more established concepts into a more comprehensive picture to better understand the uniquely evolved human brain.

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