Genomic imprinting as a window into human language evolution
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Humans spend large portions of their time and energy talking to one another, yet it remains unclear whether this activity is primarily selfish or altruistic. Here, it is shown how parent‐of‐origin specific gene expression—or “genomic imprinting”—may provide an answer to this question. First, it is shown why, regarding language, only altruistic or selfish scenarios are expected. Second, it is pointed out that an individual's maternal‐origin and paternal‐origin genes may have different evolutionary interests regarding investment into language, and that this intragenomic conflict may drive genomic imprinting which—as the direction of imprint depends upon whether investment into language is relatively selfish or altruistic—may be used to discriminate between these two possibilities. Third, predictions concerning the impact of various mutations and epimutations at imprinted loci on language pathologies are derived. In doing so, a framework is developed that highlights avenues for using intragenomic conflicts to investigate the evolutionary drivers of language.
Hitchcock , T , Paracchini , S & Gardner , A 2019 , ' Genomic imprinting as a window into human language evolution ' , BioEssays , vol. 41 , no. 6 , 1800212 . https://doi.org/10.1002/bies.201800212
© 2019 The Authors. BioEssays Published by WILEY Periodicals, Inc. This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
DescriptionFunding: S.P. is a Royal Society University Research Fellow. A.G. is funded by a Natural Environment Research Council Independent Research Fellowship (NE/K009524/1) and a European Research Council Consolidator Grant (771387).
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