Switch drives supply of nerve cells to hands and feet – findings highlight complexity and diversity of cells in the central nervous system that are required for movement
Researchers have identified a genetic signature found exclusively in the nerve cells that supply, or innervate, the muscles of an organism’s outermost extremities: the hands and feet.
This signature, observed in both mice and chicks, involves the coordinated activity of multiple genes, and is fundamentally distinct from cells innervating nearby anatomical regions, such as more proximal muscles in the limb.
The findings suggest that the evolution of the extremities may be related to the emergence of fine motor control, such as grasping – one of biology’s most essential adaptations.
The study, led by neuroscientists at Columbia University’s Mortimer Zuckerman Mind Brain Behavior Institute and New York University, was published today in the journal Neuron. [Read more…] about Genetic ‘switch’ in animals offers clues to evolutionary origins of fine motor skills