Found in the developing brain: Mental health risk genes and gender differences
Most genes associated with psychiatric illnesses are expressed before birth in the developing human brain, a massive study headed by Yale University researchers discovered. In addition, hundreds of genetic differences were found between males and females as their brains take shape in the womb, the study in the Oct. 27 issue of the journal Nature shows.
The creation of a hundred billion brain cells and the incalculable number of connections between them is such a complex task that 86 percent of 17,000 human genes studied are recruited in the effort. The study tracked not only what genes are involved in development, but where and when they are expressed, or activated.
"We knew many of the genes involved in the development of the brain, but now we know where and when they are functioning in the human brain," said Nenad Sestan, associate professor of neurobiology, researcher for the Kavli Institute for Neuroscience and senior author of the study. "The complexity of the system shows why the human brain may be so susceptible to psychiatric disorders."
The study identified genes expressed in the human brain, and when and where in the brain they were expressed in 1340 tissue samples taken from 57 subjects aged from 40 days after conception to 82 years. The analysis of 1.9 billion data points gives an unprecedented map of genetic activity in the brain at different stages of development. In dramatic fashion, the findings show just how much of the human brain is shaped prior to birth.
For instance, the team analyzed genes and variants previously linked with autism and schizophrenia, the symptoms of which are evident in the first few years of life or during early adulthood, respectively. The new analysis shows molecular evidence of expression of these suspect genes prior to birth.
"We found a distinct pattern of gene expression and variations prenatally in areas of the brain involving higher cognitive function," Sestan said. "It is clear that these disease-associated genes are developmentally regulated."
The team also looked for differences in brains of males and females. They expected to find clear differences in Y chromosome genes that are possessed only by males. However, they also demonstrated that men and women showed distinct differences in many genes that are shared by both sexes both in whether the gene was expressed and the level of the gene's activity. Most of the differences were noted prenatally.
Provided by Yale University
- Our brains are made of the same stuff, despite DNA differences Oct 26, 2011 | not rated yet | 0
- Autism blurs distinctions between brain regions Jun 03, 2011 | not rated yet | 0
- Gene activity in the brain depends on genetic background Oct 19, 2010 | not rated yet | 0
- Sex-based prenatal brain differences found Oct 23, 2009 | not rated yet | 0
- Young human-specific genes correlated with human brain evolution Oct 18, 2011 | not rated yet | 0
- Motion perception revisited: High Phi effect challenges established motion perception assumptions Apr 23, 2013 | 3 / 5 (2) | 2
- Anything you can do I can do better: Neuromolecular foundations of the superiority illusion (Update) Apr 02, 2013 | 4.5 / 5 (11) | 5
- The visual system as economist: Neural resource allocation in visual adaptation Mar 30, 2013 | 5 / 5 (2) | 9
- Separate lives: Neuronal and organismal lifespans decoupled Mar 27, 2013 | 4.9 / 5 (8) | 0
- Sizing things up: The evolutionary neurobiology of scale invariance Feb 28, 2013 | 4.8 / 5 (10) | 14
Classical and Quantum Mechanics via Lie algebras
Apr 15, 2011 I'd like to open a discussion thread for version 2 of the draft of my book ''Classical and Quantum Mechanics via Lie algebras'', available online at http://lanl.arxiv.org/abs/0810.1019 , and for the...
- More from Physics Forums - Independent Research
More news stories
Northwestern University scientists have shown a gene involved in neurodegenerative disease also plays a critical role in the proper function of the circadian clock.
Genetics May 16, 2013 | not rated yet | 0 |
Informed consent is the backbone of patient care. Genetic testing has long required patient consent and patients have had a "right not to know" the results. However, as 21st century medicine now begins to use the tools of ...
Genetics May 16, 2013 | 5 / 5 (1) | 3 |
Ethicists provide framework supporting new recommendations on reporting incidental findings in gene sequencing
In a paper published in Science Express, a group of experts led by bioethicists in the Center for Medical Ethics and Health Policy at Baylor College of Medicine provide a framework for the new American College of Medical Geneti ...
Genetics May 16, 2013 | not rated yet | 0
The use of genome-wide analysis (GWA), where the entirety of an individual's DNA is examined to look for the genomic mutations or variants which can cause health problems is a massively useful technology for diagnosing disease. ...
Genetics May 16, 2013 | not rated yet | 0
DNA databases might help identify victims of crime and human trafficking, but how do we safeguard the personal privacy of innocent victims and family members? A new report online May 15 in the Cell Press journal Trends in ...
Genetics May 15, 2013 | not rated yet | 0
The latest makeover to a massive psychiatric tome honored by some, reviled by others and even called the "Bible" of mental disorders is being released Saturday with a host of new changes.
54 minutes ago | not rated yet | 0
An increasing number of U.S. children are experiencing gastrointestinal issues that require interventions to resolve, according to research presented at Digestive Disease Week (DDW).
3 hours ago | not rated yet | 0 |
A new case of the deadly coronavirus has been detected in Saudi Arabia where 15 people have already died after contracting it, the health ministry announced on Saturday on its Internet website.
1 hour ago | not rated yet | 0
A ground-breaking advance in colonoscopy technology signals the future of colorectal care, according to research presented today at Digestive Disease Week(DDW). Additional research focuses on optimizing the minimal withdrawal ...
3 hours ago | 5 / 5 (1) | 0
Big names in medicine are set to give an upbeat assessment of the war on AIDS on Tuesday, 30 years after French researchers identified the virus that causes the disease.
11 hours ago | 5 / 5 (1) | 0
For combat veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, 'fear circuitry' in the brain never rests
Chronic trauma can inflict lasting damage to brain regions associated with fear and anxiety. Previous imaging studies of people with post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, have shown that these brain regions can over-or ...
12 hours ago | 5 / 5 (1) | 0 |