The Roslin Institute Logo The genetic make-up of the human brain is complex and many of us consider it to be static throughout our lifespan. Contrary to this belief, scientists from the The Roslin Institute, at the University of Edinburgh have found that brain cells apparently change their genetic composition in the life cycle of a person.

The team believes that this finding may throw light on the development of neurological illnesses. They spotted genes namely retrotransposons that apparently play a major role in minute alterations taking place in the DNA of brain tissue.

These genes were seemingly related to that part of the brain which is associated with cell renewal. The investigators sought to understand the origin of the aforesaid diseases by mapping the regions inhabited by retrotransposons in the human genome. They tried to locate the mutations that have an effect on brain function.

“This research completely overturns the belief that the genetic make-up of brain cells remains static throughout life and provides us with new information about how the brain works. If we can understand better how these subtle genetic changes occur we could shed light on how brain cells regenerate, how processes like memory formation may have a genetic basis and possibly link the activity of these genes to brain diseases,” specified Dr Geoff Faulkner, of The Roslin Institute at the University of Edinburgh.

The study basically shows that the genetic constitution of brain cells is presumably different from other bodily cells and is also unique in a way. The team is now investigating if brain tumors and Alzheimer’s disease are also linked to retrotransposon activity.

The findings are published in the journal, Nature.