Study: ‘Speech’ gene FOXP2 is the most intriguing gene in human genome


According to a study published online in the journal Nature, on Wednesday, one of the most intriguing of all the 20,000 genes in the human genome is the FOXP2 - a gene that triggers the ‘speech’ faculty of human beings; and the mutation of which is the underlying reason why humans can talk and chimpanzees cannot!

The study elaborates that though all animals have an FOXP2 gene, the human version’s product varies at only 2 of its 740 units, vis-à-vis the chimpanzee version’s product, thereby suggesting that this infinitesimal evolutionary fix gives humans the ‘speech’ edge over their nearest animal relatives.

With the lab tests depicting that the human version regulated over 100 other genes differently from the chimp version, scientists have been able to pin down the fact that a mutation in FOXP2 gene probably helped humans develop speech and language ability.

Noting that the FOXP2 gene notifies “what may be happening in the brain,” Daniel Geschwind – the author of the study and a professor of neurology, psychiatry and human genetics at Los Angeles’ University of California – said: “It's really playing a major role in chimp-human differences. You mutate this gene in humans and you get a speech and language disorder.”

Geschwind added that further work on the FOXP2 gene may equip researchers with the potential to develop genetic treatments for people with autism and other developmental problems.

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