Archive for the ‘LDB1’ Category

raining words; in a moment
Image by pfv. via Flickr

The acquisition of language in humans remains a complex and fascinating mystery from both a neuro- and evolutionary-biological perspective. Attempts to identify genetic regulators of neural processes that are involved in language acquisition have the potential to shed light, not only on the natural history of homo sapiens, but also, to help understand the complex neurodevelopmental disorder, Autism, often associated with profound language impairments. So, it is very exciting to read, “Genome-wide analyses of human perisylvian cerebral cortical patterning” by Abrahams et al., (DOI) who examined human gene expression in frontal vs. superior temporal cortex at a developmental period where neurogenesis and neuronal migration are particularly active. The authors went looking for differential gene expression during a critical developmental time point and in a critical brain region – since the superior temporal cortex is an area that is reliably activated by linguistic tasks as well as social cognition tasks. According to the article, a total of 345 differentially expressed genes were identified, with 61 enriched and 284 down-regulated in superior temporal cortex across two microarray platforms, with 13 genes identified by both microarray array platforms. One of the genes identified is LDB1, a regulator of the asymmetrically expressed LIM domain-only 4 (LMO4) a known mediator of calcium-dependent transcription in cortical neurons and known to regulate thalamocortical connectivity. Another gene, CNTNAP2, a member of the neurexin transmembrane superfamily of proteins that mediate cellular interactions in the nervous system has been previously associated with autism. Both of these genes seem to have important developmental roles and should provide access to the fine-scale wiring that occurs during the development of neural networks involved in language.

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