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Biotech

Human Language Gene Changes How Mice Squeak 185

archatheist writes "Researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany have engineered a mouse whose FOXP2 gene has been swapped out for a different (human) version. This is interesting because the gene is implicated in human language, and this has changed how mice squeak. 'In a region of the brain called the basal ganglia, known in people to be involved in language, the humanized mice grew nerve cells that had a more complex structure. Baby mice utter ultrasonic whistles when removed from their mothers. The humanized baby mice, when isolated, made whistles that had a slightly lower pitch, among other differences, Dr. Enard says. Dr. Enard argues that putting significant human genes into mice is the only feasible way of exploring the essential differences between people and chimps, our closest living relatives.' The academic paper was published in Cell."

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