Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Found in the developing brain: Mental health risk genes and gender differences

Date:
October 26, 2011
Source:
Yale University
Summary:
Most genes associated with psychiatric illnesses are expressed before birth in the developing human brain, a massive study has revealed. In addition, hundreds of genetic differences were found between males and females as their brains take shape in the womb.

Artist's depiction of neurons.
Credit: © nobeastsofierce / Fotolia

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.

Related Articles


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.

Researchers from the Lieber Institute for Brain Development, National Institute of Mental Health, Virginia Commonwealth University, and Newcastle University contributed to the study.

Co-lead authors from Yale are Hyo Jung Kang, Yuka Imamura Kawasawa, Feng Cheng, Ying Zhu, Xuming Xu and Mingfeng, Other authors affiliated with Yale are Andrι M. M. Sousa, Mihovil Pletikos, Kyle A. Meyer, Goran Sedmak, Yurae Shin, Matthew B. Johnson, Zeljka Krsnik, Simone Mayer, Sofia Fertuzinhos, Sheila Alexander Vortmeyer, Shrikant Mane and Anita Huttner.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Yale University. The original article was written by Bill Hathaway. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Hyo Jung Kang, Yuka Imamura Kawasawa, Feng Cheng, Ying Zhu, Xuming Xu, Mingfeng Li, Andrι M. M. Sousa, Mihovil Pletikos, Kyle A. Meyer, Goran Sedmak, Tobias Guennel, Yurae Shin, Matthew B. Johnson, Željka Krsnik, Simone Mayer, Sofia Fertuzinhos, Sheila Umlauf, Steven N. Lisgo, Alexander Vortmeyer, Daniel R. Weinberger, Shrikant Mane, Thomas M. Hyde, Anita Huttner, Mark Reimers, Joel E. Kleinman, Nenad Šestan. Spatio-temporal transcriptome of the human brain. Nature, 2011; 478 (7370): 483 DOI: 10.1038/nature10523

Cite This Page:

Yale University. "Found in the developing brain: Mental health risk genes and gender differences." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 26 October 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/10/111026143723.htm>.
Yale University. (2011, October 26). Found in the developing brain: Mental health risk genes and gender differences. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 25, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/10/111026143723.htm
Yale University. "Found in the developing brain: Mental health risk genes and gender differences." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/10/111026143723.htm (accessed November 25, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Health & Medicine News

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

From Popcorn To Vending Snacks: FDA Ups Calorie Count Rules

From Popcorn To Vending Snacks: FDA Ups Calorie Count Rules

Newsy (Nov. 25, 2014) — The US FDA is announcing new calorie rules on Tuesday that will require everywhere from theaters to vending machines to include calorie counts. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Daily Serving Of Yogurt Could Reduce Risk Of Type 2 Diabetes

Daily Serving Of Yogurt Could Reduce Risk Of Type 2 Diabetes

Newsy (Nov. 25, 2014) — Need another reason to eat yogurt every day? Researchers now say it could reduce a person's risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Madagascar Working to Contain Plague Outbreak

Madagascar Working to Contain Plague Outbreak

AFP (Nov. 24, 2014) — Madagascar said Monday it is trying to contain an outbreak of plague -- similar to the Black Death that swept Medieval Europe -- that has killed 40 people and is spreading to the capital Antananarivo. Duration: 00:42 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Are Female Bosses More Likely To Be Depressed?

Are Female Bosses More Likely To Be Depressed?

Newsy (Nov. 24, 2014) — A new study links greater authority with increased depressive symptoms among women in the workplace. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

More Coverage


Human Brains Are Made of the Same Stuff, Despite DNA Differences

Oct. 26, 2011 — Despite vast differences in the genetic code across individuals and ethnicities, the human brain shows a "consistent molecular architecture," say researchers. The finding is from a pair of ... read more

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins