Mutations give unique genetic makeup to neighboring neurons
Gilad Evrony (concept), Erik Jacobsen/Threestory Studio (illustration)
Nerve cells in the brain don’t all work from the same genetic blueprint. Individual neurons within a person’s skull harbor over a thousand distinct DNA mutations, scientists report in the Oct. 2 Science.
The study “shows something fascinating — every neuron probably has a unique genome,” says neuroscientist Mike McConnell of the University of Virginia in Charlottesville. That variation may have important implications for how the brain grows and functions normally, and for when problems arise. “We’re no longer saying, ‘Do neurons have different genomes?’” McConnell says. “We’re saying, ‘Let’s figure out how that matters.’”
Molecular biologist Michael Lodato and neuroscientist Mollie Woodworth of Boston Children’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School and colleagues scrutinized 36 neurons taken from postmortem