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Supplementary Material for: Evolution of the SRGAP2 Gene Is Linked to Intelligence in Mammals

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journal contribution
posted on 21.06.2016, 08:24 by Tiwary B.K.
Background/Aims: A recent duplication of the gene encoding SLIT-ROBO Rho GTPase-activating protein 2 (SRGAP2) in the primate lineage has been proposed to be associated with the human-specific extraordinary development of intelligence. There is no report regarding the role of the SRGAP2 gene in the expression of neural traits indicating intelligence in mammals. Methods: A phylogenetic tree of the SRGAP2 gene from 11 mammals was reconstructed using MrBayes. The evolution of neural traits along the branches of the phylogenetic tree was modeled in the BayesTraits, and the dN/dS ratio (i.e. the ratio between the number of nonsynonymous substitutions per nonsynonymous site and the number of synonymous substitutions per synonymous site) was estimated using the codon-based maximum likelihood method (CODEML) in PAML (phylogenetic analysis by maximum likelihood). Results: Two neural traits, namely brain mass and the number of cortical neurons, showed statistical dependency on the underlying evolutionary history of the SRGAP2 gene in mammals. A significant positive correlation between the increase in cortical neurons and the rate of nucleotide substitutions in the SRGAP2 gene was observed concomitantly with a significant negative correlation between the increase in cortical neurons and the rate of nonsynonymous substitutions in the gene. The SRGAP2 gene appears to be under intense pressure of purifying selection in all mammalian lineages under stringent functional constraint. Conclusion: This work indicates a key role of the SRGAP2 gene in the rapid expansion of neurons in the brain cortex, thereby facilitating the evolution of remarkable intelligence in mammals.