FOXP2 gene and human language
Konopka, Genevieve Departments of Neurology and Human Genetics, University of California School of Medicine, Los Angeles, California.
Geschwind, Daniel H. Departments of Neurology and Human Genetics, University of California School of Medicine, Los Angeles, California.
- Function and mutations
- Insight from animal models
- Human targets and disease
- Links to Primary Literature
- Additional Readings
Language is a key feature reflecting the evolution of the human brain. Arguably, it is the most unique feature that sets humans apart from all other organisms on Earth. Understanding the origin and mechanisms governing language production will provide insight into human evolution, as well as therapeutics for the many neurodevelopmental disorders involving language impairment (for example, specific language impairment, dyslexia, autism, and schizophrenia). A major advance into identifying the molecular mechanisms of language occurred when the first gene tied strongly to language function was uncovered. This gene encodes for the forkhead box P2 protein (FOXP2). FOXP2 belongs to the larger forkhead family of transcription factors. The role of transcription factors is to regulate the expression of other genes in a temporal or spatial manner. Because FOXP2 regulates gene expression, it is well poised to have a significant effect on the network of genes involved in the patterning and function of brain circuits involved in language and other elements of human higher cognition.
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