Monday, February 20, 2012
Have you heard of jumping genes? Not jumping beans. Jumping genes. Turns out that scientists at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies have identified something they are calling “jumping genes.” They found that human brain cells contain an unexpected number of so-called mobile elements, extraordinary pieces of DNA that insert extra copies of themselves throughout the genome using a copy and paste mechanism. These mobile pieces of DNA likely give the brain’s 100 billion individual neurons a slightly different capacity from each other and could help to explain brain development and individuality, as well as lead to a better understanding of neurological diseases.