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Single neuron may carry over 1,000 mutations

A single neuron in a normal adult brain likely has more than a thousand genetic mutations that are not present in the cells that surround it, according to new research from Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) scientists. The majority of these mutations appear to arise while genes are in active use, after brain development is complete.

“We found that the genes that the brain uses most of all are the genes that are most fragile and most likely to be mutated,” says Christopher Walsh, an HHMI investigator at Boston Children’s Hospital who led the research. Walsh, Peter Park, a computational biologist at Harvard Medical School, and their colleagues reported their findings in the October 2, 2015, issue of the journalĀ Science.

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