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Cereb Cortex. 2013 May;23(5):1025-30. doi: 10.1093/cercor/bhs061. Epub 2012 Apr 17.

Genes encoding heterotrimeric G-proteins are associated with gray matter volume variations in the medial frontal cortex.

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  • 1Department of Functional Genomics, Center for Neurogenomics and Cognitive Research, Neurosciences Campus Amsterdam, VU University, 1081HV Amsterdam, the Netherlands.


G-protein-coupled signal transduction mediates most cellular responses to hormones and neurotransmitters; this signaling system transduces a large variety of extracellular stimuli into neurons and is the most widely used mechanism for cell communication at the synaptic level. The heterotrimeric G-proteins have been well established as key regulators of neuronal growth, differentiation, and function. More recently, the heterotrimeric G-protein genes group was associated with general cognitive ability. Although heterotrimeric G-proteins are linked to both cognitive ability and neuron signaling, it is unknown whether heterotrimeric G-proteins are also important for brain structure. We tested for association between local cerebral gray matter volume and the heterotrimeric G-protein genes group in 294 subjects; a replication analysis was performed in an independent sample of 238 subjects. Voxel-based morphometry revealed a strong replicated association between 2 genes encoding heterotrimeric G-proteins with specific local increase in medial frontal cortex volume, an area known to be involved in cognitive control and negative affect. This finding suggests that heterotrimeric G-proteins might modulate medial frontal cortex gray matter volume. The differences in gray matter volume due to variations in genes encoding G-proteins may be explained by the role of G-proteins in prenatal and postnatal neocortex development.

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