Genes responsible for being right or left-handed identified

Washington, Sept 13 (ANI): Researchers have identified a biological process that influences whether a person is right handed or left handed.

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," first author William Brandler, a PhD student in the MRC Functional Genomics Unit at Oxford University said.

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

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 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.

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

They 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.

The study is published in the open-access journal PLOS Genetics. (ANI)

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