Discovery of genes shaping brain structure

Analysis of 8,428 individuals with sequenced genome and scaned brain has pointed to 148 inherited clusters of brain structure traits.

Among many genes involved in brain development and maintenance, stands outs SLC39A8 with variant rs13107325 linked to grey matter volume. This observation is confirmed by previous studies, which linked rs13107325 to intelligence and schizophrenia. On the other hand, the white matter appears to be governed by variants genes BCAN, EFEMP1 and VCAN. Worth noting are also mutations in ROBO3, known to cause horizontal gaze palsy, and further confirmed to affect brain structure.

However, most brain structure traits were associated with multiple variants in different genes. These findings associated 148 clusters explaining brain features.

Genes which decide about brain structure act during brain development, neuronal plasticity and cellular transport.

More: “Genome-wide association studies of brain imaging phenotypes in UK Biobank”, L. Elliott, 2018, doi:10.1038/s41586-018-0571-7.