Two teams of researchers have identified a human-specific gene family, NOTCH2NL, that emerged first in our primate ancestors as a partial duplication of the neurodevelopmental gene NOTCH2. The genes were later repaired and made functional by a gene conversion in humans.

The findings, developed in parallel between the labs of Dr. David Haussler (University of California, Santa Cruz; HHMI) and Dr. Pierre Vanderhaeghen (Université Libre de Bruxelles ULB; VIB-KU Leuven), suggest that NOTCH2NL interacts with the Notch signaling pathway to produce more neurons across the course of development.

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