Wieland B. Huttner Which Evolutionary Changes in the Genome Led to the Development of the Large-Sized Human Brain?

Wieland B. Huttner is Director at the Max Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics in Dresden and Honorary Professor of Neurobiology at Technische Universität Dresden, Germany. He is also the speaker of the International Max Planck Research School IMPRS-CellDevoSys. Having an educational background in medicine Huttner’s scientific career has been focused on how the brain works. His research interests include developmental neurobiology and the evolution of the neocortex. Huttner is an elected member of the German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina and the European Molecular Biology Organization (EMBO). He also served on the German Council of Science and Humanities from 2004 until 2010.

Area of Research

Molecular Neurobiology

Wieland B. Huttner. "Sulphation of Tyrosine Residues—A Widespread Modification of Proteins." Nature 299 (1982): 273-276..  
Ulrich M. Benedum, Patrick A. Baeuerle, David S. Konecki, R. Frank, J. Powell, J. Mallet and Wieland B. Huttner. "The Primary Structure of Bovine Chromogranin A: A Representative of a Class of Acidic Secretory Proteins Common to a Variety of Peptidergic Cells." The EMBO Journal 5 (1986): 1495-1502.  
Sharon A. Tooze and Wieland B. Huttner. "Cell-free Protein Sorting to the Regulated and Constitutive Secretory Pathways." Cell 60 (1990): 837-847..  
Anja Weigmann, Denis Corbeil, Andrea Hellwig and Wieland B. Huttner. "Prominin, a Novel Microvilli-Specific Polytopic Membrane Protein of the Apical Surface of Epithelial Cells, is Targeted to Plasmalemmal Protrusions of Non-Epithelial Cells." Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 94 (1997): 12425-12430..  

since 1998

Director

Max Planck Society (more details)

Max Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics

1991-2000

Professor of Neurobiology

Heidelberg University (Ruprecht-Karls-Universität Heidelberg)

Institute of Neurobiology

1985-1990

Group Leader

EMBL Cell Biology Programme

1981-1985

Junior Group Leader

Max Planck Society (more details)

Max Planck Institute of Psychiatry

1977-1980

Postdoc

Yale University

Department of Pharmacology

1976-1977

Postdoc

Max Planck Society (more details)

Max Planck Institute of Experimental Medicine

1985

Habilitation in Physiological Chemistry

University of Würzburg (Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg)

1972-1976

Doctoral Thesis in Physiological Chemistry

University of Hamburg (Universität Hamburg)

1969-1975

Study of Medicine

University of Hamburg (Universität Hamburg)

Editorial Board, Neural Development (2008-present)

Prizes

Berthold Medal, German Society for Endocrinology (2003)

Karl-­Winnacker-­Prize (1985)

ERC Advanced Grant (2009-2016)

© Maximilian Dörrbecker

Max Planck Society


"The Max Planck Society is Germany's most successful research organization. Since its establishment in 1948, no fewer than 18 Nobel laureates have emerged from the ranks of its scientists, putting it on a par with the best and most prestigious research institutions worldwide. The more than 15,000 publications each year in internationally renowned scientific journals are proof of the outstanding research work conducted at Max Planck Institutes – and many of those articles are among the most-cited publications in the relevant field." (Source)

Institute

Max Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics

"How do cells form tissues? How do tissues form organisms? Cell and developmental biologists at the Max Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics in Dresden devote their research to discovering how cell division and cell differentiation work, which structures can be found in cell organelles and how cells exchange information and materials. Physical processes play an important role here; processes which, for instance, influence the movement of molecular motors, such as actin and myosin. Model organisms like the fruit fly, zebrafish, roundworm or mouse help the 25 research groups to find answers to the very basic questions of life. Often, this research includes investigating diseases like diabetes, cancer, Alzheimer's Disease or retinal degeneration." (Source)

Map

During the evolution of primates their brain size, and specifically the size of their cerebral cortex where the higher cognitive functions are located, expanded. Stem cells in the human brain go through a higher number of cell divisions and thus produce a higher number of neurons then do stem cells in the brains of apes. The research presented in this video investigates which evolutionary changes in the genome caused this increase in cell division. WIELAND HUTTNER describes how the research group isolated the relevant human-specific stem cells and, using a new method devised by the group, studied which genes were particularly highly expressed in those cells. The gene with the highest specificity of expression, AHRGAP11B, was introduced in mouse embryos. The results indicate that this gene is indeed responsible for an increase in cell division. Furthermore, in about half of the mouse embryos, the brain started to fold – a feature that is particularly prominent in species with enlarged brains.

LT Video Publication DOI: https://doi.org/10.21036/LTPUB10360

Human-Specific Gene ARHGAP11B Promotes Basal Progenitor Amplification and Neocortex Expansion

  • Marta Florio, Mareike Albert, Elena Taverna, Takashi Namba, Kay Prüfer, Janet Kelso, Ronald Naumann, Ina Nüsslein, Andreas Dahl, Robert Lachmann, Svante Pääbo and Wieland B. Huttner
  • Science
  • Published in 2015

Chicago

Marta Florio, Mareike Albert, Elena Taverna, Takashi Namba, Kay Prüfer, Janet Kelso, Ronald Naumann, Ina Nüsslein, Andreas Dahl, Robert Lachmann, Svante Pääbo and Wieland B. Huttner. "Human-Specific Gene ARHGAP11B Promotes Basal Progenitor Amplification and Neocortex Expansion." Science 347 (2015): 1465-1470.