RNA editing, DNA recoding and the evolution of human cognition

John S. Mattick, Mark F. Mehler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

109 Scopus citations

Abstract

RNA editing appears to be the major mechanism by which environmental signals overwrite encoded genetic information to modify gene function and regulation, particularly in the brain. We suggest that the predominance of Alu elements in the human genome is the result of their evolutionary co-adaptation as a modular substrate for RNA editing, driven by selection for higher-order cognitive function. We show that RNA editing alters transcripts from loci encoding proteins involved in neural cell identity, maturation and function, as well as in DNA repair, implying a role for RNA editing not only in neural transmission and network plasticity but also in brain development, and suggesting that communication of productive changes back to the genome might constitute the molecular basis of long-term memory and higher-order cognition.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)227-233
Number of pages7
JournalTrends in Neurosciences
Volume31
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - May 1 2008

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)

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