Gene Editing

Rare Variant in TUBB4B Gene Sheds Light on Brain Asymmetry

Main image to the post Rare Variant in TUBB4B Gene Sheds Light on Brain Asymmetry

Left-handedness, a trait shared by approximately 10% of the population, has long puzzled scientists. A recent study has shed light on a potential genetic component contributing to this phenomenon. Researchers identified rare variants of the TUBB4B gene, involved in cell shape control, to be significantly more prevalent in left-handed individuals.

While these genetic variants account for a small fraction of left-handedness, they suggest that TUBB4B may play a role in the development of brain asymmetry, which underlies hand dominance. In most individuals, the brain's hemispheres exhibit distinct anatomies and functional dominance. For instance, language is typically processed in the left hemisphere, while spatial attention is controlled by the right hemisphere.

The study's findings indicate that microtubules, cellular structures regulated by TUBB4B, may be involved in establishing the brain's normal asymmetries. The development of these hemispheric differences begins in the human embryo, but the underlying mechanisms remain unclear. Rare genetic variants, such as those identified in TUBB4B, can provide valuable insights into these developmental processes.

The prevalence of left-handedness varies across cultures, with lower rates observed in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East compared to Europe and North America. This disparity likely reflects historical suppression of left-handedness in certain cultures, forcing individuals to adopt right-handedness.

Interestingly, left-handedness has been associated with an increased likelihood of schizophrenia and autism. This suggests that genes involved in brain development during early life may also influence both brain asymmetry and psychiatric traits. Further research is needed to explore these potential connections.

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May 21, 2023 | 05:09