Researchers have discovered a family of “jumping genes” that are present in both human and octopus brains, and they’re uncovering more about human brains thanks to the discovery.
The “jumping genes,” also known as transposons, were previously thought to hold remnants of past information with no function for our modern genomes but thanks to new research on octopus brains, scientists are learning the jumping genes may play a larger role in the genome than one thought.
A new paper on the research was published in BMC Biology.
According to IFLScience, transposons make up around 45% of the human genome. They’re basically strings of genetic information that move from one position to the next – essentially “jumping” around the humane genome at will.
The same types of jumping genes were discovered in two different octopus genomes, but scientists found that for the octopi, the jumping genes play some serious roles. Because of the possible importance of the transposons in octopus brains, researchers are paying closer attention to how they may also impact humans brains and the human genome.
In a press release, Remo Sanges, director of the Computational Genomics laboratory at SISSA, stated:
“The discovery of an element of the LINE family, active in the brain of the two octopuses species, is very significant because it adds support to the idea that these elements have a specific function that goes beyond copy-and-paste.”
Giovanna Ponte from Stazione Zoologica Anton Dohrn added: “I literally jumped on the chair when, under the microscope, I saw a very strong signal of activity of this element in the vertical lobe, the structure of the brain which in the octopus is the seat of learning and cognitive abilities, just like the hippocampus in humans.”
The findings suggest that “jumping genes” may play a key role in cognition, though further research will be needed.Whizzco