The human body is a marvel that continues to reveal new and exciting scientific wonders to researchers each day, but a recent discovery by the University of Illinois at Chicago shows that our brains contain a “zombie gene” that carries on after the rest of us dies.
These genes, known as glial genes, are switched on after our brain dies to act as a clean-up crew of sorts. Yes, our brains have their own janitorial department that works overtime to make sure everything else is cleaned up.
Although these findings might make us start planning our zombie apocalypse bunker and picking which of our friends we’ll take with us, report author Jeffrey Loeb helped explain that the findings aren’t too surprising after all.
“That glial cells enlarge after death isn’t too surprising given that they are inflammatory and their job is to clean things up after brain injuries like oxygen deprivation or stroke.”
This makes sense when you think of how traumatic and messy something like surgery would be for the delicate brain, but the fact that these genes continue doing their work after the brain dies is news to scientists. In fact, in some studies, the glial genes stuck around doing their jobs for over 12 hours after the brain was dead.
We found that 1427 genes could be clustered,” the University’s report states. “One cluster of 317 rapidly declining genes was predicted to be neuronal and strongly overlapped with the activity-dependent genes. A second cluster of 474 genes was predicted to be glial, including astrocytes and microglia. Remarkably, as the neuronal cell cluster rapidly fell, there was a reciprocal and dramatic increase in the expression of the glial cell cluster.
[Via Popular Mechanics]