The human capacity for vocal communication is unrivaled throughout the animal kingdom, though our genetic make-up only differs from our closest relatives by a percent or two. Researchers are beginning to unravel the neurogenetic pathways that enable this unparalleled capability for speech. Initial clues have been unearthed in the identification of genes associated with developmental language disorders, further supported by work in animal models.
The FOXP2 gene is a hallmark of the neurobiological investigation of language; discovered through the study of a family in which fifteen members possess severe speech co-ordination problems. All affected family members were subsequently found to harbor a missense mutation in their copies of FOXP2 [1,2]. Animal studies in birds and mice suggest that foxp2 is also important for communication throughout the animal kingdom [3, 4]. Yet independent evidence suggests that human FOXP2 is special; two amino acid substitutions in the FoxP2 protein have appeared in man since the human lineage split from chimpanzees around 7 million years ago . These substitutions are outside of known functional domains , yet notable differences are seen between cell lines and animal models expressing “humanized” FoxP2 protein and those carrying wildtype versions [7,8].
The anomalies and differences of FOXP2 however, cannot explain the neurological basis and complexity of human language on their own. Other genes and pathways are important for verbal communication in man, demonstrated by the fact common language impairments are not related to mutations in FOXP2 . As more genes, such as DYX1C1 , CMIP  and ROBO1 , are uncovered in patient cases of dyslexia, specific language impairment and developmental verbal dyspraxia, the neurogenetic mapping of the language landscape will become clearer through further biomolecular investigations.
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|12851-1-AP||CMIP||ELISA, WB, IHC||23200848|
|15500-1-AP||DISC1-long specific||ELISA, WB, IHC|
|14522-1-AP||DYX1C1||ELISA, WB||22383464, 22375924|
|17047-1-AP||ROGDI||ELISA, WB, IHC||22482807, 22424600|
|11845-1-AP||SRPX2||ELISA, WB, IHC||19667118, 18718938|
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 Newbury DF et al., Am J Hum Genet 2009, 85:264-272
 Hannula-Jouppi K et al., PLoS Genet 2005, 1:e50