Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Genes linked to being right- or left-handed identified

Date:
September 12, 2013
Source:
University of Oxford
Summary:
A genetic study has identified a biological process that influences whether we are right-handed or left-handed. Scientists found correlations between handedness and a network of genes involved in establishing left-right asymmetry in developing embryos.

A genetic study has identified a biological process that influences whether we are right handed or left handed.
Credit: Julija Sapic / Fotolia

A genetic study has identified a biological process that influences whether we are right handed or left handed.

Related Articles


Scientists at the Universities of Oxford, St Andrews, Bristol and the Max Plank Institute in Nijmegen, the Netherlands, found correlations between handedness and a network of genes involved in establishing left-right asymmetry in developing embryos.

'The genes are involved in the biological process through which an early embryo moves on from being a round ball of cells and becomes a growing organism with an established left and right side,' explained first author William Brandler, a PhD student in the MRC Functional Genomics Unit at Oxford University.

The researchers suggest that the genes may also help establish left-right differences in the brain, which in turn influences handedness.

They report their findings in the open-access journal PLOS Genetics.

Humans are the only species to show such a strong bias in handedness, with around 90% of people being right-handed. The cause of this bias remains largely a mystery.

The researchers, led by Dr Silvia Paracchini at the University of St Andrews, were interested in understanding which genes might have an influence on handedness, in order to gain an insight into the causes and evolution of handedness.

The team carried out a genome-wide association study to identify any common gene variants that might correlate with which hand people prefer using.

The most strongly associated, statistically significant variant with handedness is located in the gene PCSK6, which is involved in the early establishment of left and right in the growing embryo.

The researchers then made full use of knowledge from previous studies of what PCSK6 and similar genes do in mice to reveal more about the biological processes involved.

Disrupting PCSK6 in mice causes 'left-right asymmetry' defects, such as abnormal positioning of organs in the body. They might have a heart and stomach on the right and their liver on the left, for example.

The researchers found that variants in other genes known to cause left-right defects when disrupted in mice were more likely to be associated with relative hand skill than you would expect by chance.

While the team has identified a role for genes involved in establishing left from right in embryo development, William Brandler cautioned that these results do not completely explain the variation in handedness seen among humans. He said: 'As with all aspects of human behaviour, nature and nurture go hand-in-hand. The development of handedness derives from a mixture of genes, environment, and cultural pressure to conform to right-handedness.'


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Oxford. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. William M. Brandler, Andrew P. Morris, David M. Evans, Thomas S. Scerri, John P. Kemp, Nicholas J. Timpson, Beate St Pourcain, George Davey Smith, Susan M. Ring, John Stein, Anthony P. Monaco, Joel B. Talcott, Simon E. Fisher, Caleb Webber, Silvia Paracchini. Common Variants in Left/Right Asymmetry Genes and Pathways Are Associated with Relative Hand Skill. PLoS Genetics, 2013; 9 (9): e1003751 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pgen.1003751

Cite This Page:

University of Oxford. "Genes linked to being right- or left-handed identified." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 12 September 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/09/130912203216.htm>.
University of Oxford. (2013, September 12). Genes linked to being right- or left-handed identified. ScienceDaily. Retrieved February 1, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/09/130912203216.htm
University of Oxford. "Genes linked to being right- or left-handed identified." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/09/130912203216.htm (accessed February 1, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Health & Medicine News

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Hikers Rescued After Fall from Oregon Mountain

Hikers Rescued After Fall from Oregon Mountain

AP (Feb. 1, 2015) Two climbers who were hurt in a fall on Mount Hood are now being treated for their injuries. Rescue officials say they were airlifted off the mountain Saturday afternoon by an Oregon National Guard helicopter. (Feb. 2) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Smart Glasses Augment Reality to Help Visually Impaired

Smart Glasses Augment Reality to Help Visually Impaired

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Feb. 1, 2015) New augmented reality smart glasses developed by researchers at Oxford University can help people with visual impairments improve their vision by providing depth-based feedback, allowing users to "see" better. Joel Flynn reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Flu Season Hitting Elderly Hard

Flu Season Hitting Elderly Hard

Reuters - US Online Video (Jan. 31, 2015) The CDC says this year&apos;s flu season is hitting people 65 years of age and older especially hard. Linda So reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
CDC: Get Vaccinated for Measles

CDC: Get Vaccinated for Measles

Reuters - US Online Video (Jan. 30, 2015) The CDC is urging people to get vaccinated for measles amid an outbreak that began at Disneyland and has now infected more than 90 people. Linda So reports. Video provided by Reuters
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:

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