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Origins of nervous system found in genes of sea sponge, report scientists at UC Santa Barbara

synapse in humans, since synapses epitomize the nervous system. Synapses are involved in cell communication, learning, and memory. Next, the researchers looked to see if any of the synapse genes were present in the sponge.

That was when the surprise hit, said Kosik. We found a lot of genes to make a nervous system present in the sponge. The research team also found evidence to show that these genes were working together in the sponge. The way two of the proteins interact, and their atomic structure, bear resemblance to the human nervous system.

We found this mysterious unknown structure in the sponge, and it is clear that evolution was able to take this entire structure, and, with small modifications, direct its use toward a new function, said Kosik. Evolution can take these off the shelf components and put them together in new and interesting ways.


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Contact: Gail Gallessich
gail.g@ia.ucsb.edu
805-893-7220
University of California - Santa Barbara
5-Jun-2007


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