Metopic suture and <i>RUNX2</i>, a key transcription factor in osseous morphogenesis with possible important implications for human brain evolution
- metopic suture closure
How to Cite
Background. Overall, the comparative data available on the timing of metopic suture closure in present-day and fossil members of human lineage, as well as great apes, seem to indicate that human brain evolution occurred within a complex network of fetopelvic constraints, which required modification of frontal neurocranial ossification patterns, involving delayed fusion of the metopic suture. It is very interesting that the recent sequencing of the Neanderthal genome has revealed signs of positive selection in the modern human variant of the RUNX2 gene, which is known to affect metopic suture fusion in addition to being essential for osteoblast development and proper bone formation. It is possible that an evolutionary change in RUNX2, affecting aspects of the morphology of the upper body and cranium, was of importance in the origin of modern humans. Thus, to contribute to a better understanding of the molecular evolution of this gene probably implicated in human evolution, we performed a comparative bioinformatic analysis of the coding sequences of RUNX2 in Homo sapiens and other non-human Primates.
Results. We found amino-acid sequence differences between RUNX2 protein isoforms of Homo sapiens and the other Primates examined, that might have important implications for the timing of metopic suture closure.
Conclusions. Further studies are needed to clear the potential distinct developmental roles of different species-specific RUNX2 N-terminal isoforms. Meantime, our bioinformatic analysis, regarding expression of the RUNX2 gene in Homo sapiens and other non-human Primates, has provided a contribution to this important issue of human evolution.