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Left-Right Axis Differentiation and Functional Lateralization: a Haplotype in the Methyltransferase Encoding Gene SETDB2 Might Mediate Handedness in Healthy Adults

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Abstract

Handedness is a multifactorial trait, and genes contributing to the differentiation of the left-right axis during embryogenesis have been identified as a major gene group associated with this trait. The methyltransferase SETDB2 (SET domain, bifurcated 2) has been shown to regulate structural left-right asymmetry in the vertebrate central nervous system by suppressing fgf8 expression. Here, we investigated the relation of genetic variation in SETDB2—and its paralogue SETDB1—with different handedness phenotypes in 950 healthy adult participants. We identified a haplotype on SETDB2 for which homozygous individuals showed a significantly lower lateralization quotient for handedness than the rest of the cohort after correction for multiple comparisons. Moreover, direction of handedness was significantly associated with genetic variation in this haplotype. This effect was mainly, but not exclusively, driven by the sequence variation rs4942830, as individuals homozygous for the A allele of this single nucleotide polymorphism had a significantly lower lateralization quotient than individuals with at least one T allele. These findings further confirm a role of genetic pathways relevant for structural left-right axis differentiation for functional lateralization. Moreover, as the protein encoded by SETDB2 regulates gene expression epigenetically by histone H3 methylation, our findings highlight the importance of investigating the role of epigenetic modulations of gene expression in relation to handedness.

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Correspondence to Sebastian Ocklenburg.

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All participants gave written informed consent and were treated in accordance with the declaration of Helsinki. The study was approved by the ethics committee, Ruhr-University Bochum, Germany.

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Ocklenburg, S., Arning, L., Gerding, W.M. et al. Left-Right Axis Differentiation and Functional Lateralization: a Haplotype in the Methyltransferase Encoding Gene SETDB2 Might Mediate Handedness in Healthy Adults. Mol Neurobiol 53, 6355–6361 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12035-015-9534-2

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