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Even more interesting, the researchers found that while REST regulates a specific set of genes in all vertebrates, the protein can act on a greater number of genes in mammals, especially in those associated with the brain. Researchers hope more research may shed light on the evolution of intelligence in mammals.
The team is understandably excited by the find. “Scientists have believed for many years that differences in the way
genes are expressed into functional proteins is what differentiates one
species from another and drives evolutionary change – but no-one has
been able to prove it until now,” says lead researcher Dr. Ian Wood.
The full press announcement can be found on the University of Leeds’s website.