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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2018 Aug 28;115(35):8799-8804. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1721820115. Epub 2018 Aug 13.

Foxp2 regulates anatomical features that may be relevant for vocal behaviors and bipedal locomotion.

Author information

1
Bio-X-Renji Hospital Research Center, Renji Hospital, School of Medicine, Shanghai Jiao Tong University, 200240 Shanghai, China.
2
Guangdong Key Laboratory of Animal Conservation and Resource Utilization, Guangdong Public Laboratory of Wild Animal Conservation and Utilization, Guangdong Institute of Applied Biological Resources, 510260 Guangzhou, China.
3
The Sixth People's Hospital of Shanghai, School of Medicine, Shanghai Jiao Tong University, 200240 Shanghai, China.
4
Institute of Biomedical Sciences and School of Life Sciences, East China Normal University, 200241 Shanghai, China.
5
Institute for Cellular and Molecular Biology, University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX 78712.
6
Language and Genetics Department, Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics, Nijmegen 6525 XD, The Netherlands.
7
Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour, Radboud University, Nijmegen 6500 HE, The Netherlands.
8
Guangdong Key Laboratory of Animal Conservation and Resource Utilization, Guangdong Public Laboratory of Wild Animal Conservation and Utilization, Guangdong Institute of Applied Biological Resources, 510260 Guangzhou, China; liuqs@giabr.gd.cn xuechun.xia@sjtu.edu.cn xzguo2005@sjtu.edu.cn.
9
Bio-X-Renji Hospital Research Center, Renji Hospital, School of Medicine, Shanghai Jiao Tong University, 200240 Shanghai, China; liuqs@giabr.gd.cn xuechun.xia@sjtu.edu.cn xzguo2005@sjtu.edu.cn.

Abstract

Fundamental human traits, such as language and bipedalism, are associated with a range of anatomical adaptations in craniofacial shaping and skeletal remodeling. However, it is unclear how such morphological features arose during hominin evolution. FOXP2 is a brain-expressed transcription factor implicated in a rare disorder involving speech apraxia and language impairments. Analysis of its evolutionary history suggests that this gene may have contributed to the emergence of proficient spoken language. In the present study, through analyses of skeleton-specific knockout mice, we identified roles of Foxp2 in skull shaping and bone remodeling. Selective ablation of Foxp2 in cartilage disrupted pup vocalizations in a similar way to that of global Foxp2 mutants, which may be due to pleiotropic effects on craniofacial morphogenesis. Our findings also indicate that Foxp2 helps to regulate strength and length of hind limbs and maintenance of joint cartilage and intervertebral discs, which are all anatomical features that are susceptible to adaptations for bipedal locomotion. In light of the known roles of Foxp2 in brain circuits that are important for motor skills and spoken language, we suggest that this gene may have been well placed to contribute to coevolution of neural and anatomical adaptations related to speech and bipedal locomotion.

KEYWORDS:

Foxp2; bipedalism; bone remodeling; cranial base; vocalization

PMID:
30104377
PMCID:
PMC6126773
[Available on 2019-02-28]
DOI:
10.1073/pnas.1721820115
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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