The molecular evolution of the vertebrate behavioural repertoire

Seth G N Grant*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

How the sophisticated vertebrate behavioural repertoire evolved remains a major question in biology. The behavioural repertoire encompasses the set of individual behavioural components that an organism uses when adapting and responding to changes in its external world. Although unicellular organisms, invertebrates and vertebrates share simple reflex responses, the fundamental mechanisms that resulted in the complexity and sophistication that is characteristic of vertebrate behaviours have only recently been examined. A series of behavioural genetic experiments in mice and humans support a theory that posited the importance of synapse proteome expansion in generating complexity in the behavioural repertoire. Genome duplication events, approximately 550 Ma, produced expansion in the synapse proteome that resulted in increased complexity in synapse signalling mechanisms that regulate components of the behavioural repertoire. The experiments demonstrate the importance to behaviour of the gene duplication events, the diversification of paralogues and sequence constraint. They also confirm the significance of comparative proteomic and genomic studies that identified the molecular origins of synapses in unicellular eukaryotes and the vertebrate expansion in proteome complexity. These molecular mechanisms have general importance for understanding the repertoire of behaviours in different species and for human behavioural disorders arising from synapse gene mutations.

Original languageEnglish
Article number20150051
JournalPhilosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
Issue number1685
Early online date23 Nov 2015
Publication statusPublished - 5 Jan 2016

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • Cognition
  • Dlg
  • Genome duplication
  • GluN2
  • Synapse


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