Multi-level genomic analyses suggest new genetic variants involved in human memory
Memory is an important cognitive function for human beings. External information enters the brain by the perception system, and is encoded, processed, and stored by the memory system to become an individual's knowledge experience. Therefore, to a large extent, memory defines an individual. Previous studies have explored the genetic basis of memory through twin studies and family analysis. It is generally accepted that both short-term and long-term memories are moderately heritable. The heritability is 15%~72% for short-term memory (1-3), while 37%~55% for long-term memory (4). In recent years, with the development of sequencing technology, it has become popular to estimate heritability using genome-wide single nucleotide polymorphism sites. A recent study on memory genetics finds that the contribution of common single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNP) to short-term memory reached 31%~41% (5).
Based on the importance of memory and its known heritability, Peking University graduate students Zijian Zhu and Biqing Chen et al (6) performed whole genome wide genetic association analyses systematically and multi-dimensionally at the levels of SNP, gene, and pathway. GWAS in 1623 (short-term memory study) and 1522 (long-term memory study) Chinese young adults found SNPs including rs7011450, genes such as ZFAT and BCAT2, and such molecular pathways as mTOR signaling and axon guidance, to be associated with short-term and long-term memory.These results were partially replicated in 2790 (short-term memory) and 1862 (long-term memory) indivviduals. The article entitled "Multi-level genomic analyses suggest new genetic variants involved in human memory" is published online in July 2018 in the European Journal of Human Genetics.
Please download the PDF file from the website of Rao Lab:
1. McClearn GE, Johansson B, Berg S, et al. Substantial genetic influence on cognitive abilities in twins 80 or more years old. Science. 1997;276:1560–3.
2. Goldberg HX, Lemos GS, Fananas SL. A systematic review of the complex organization of human cognitive domains and their heritability. Psicothema. 2014;26:1–9.
3. Jensen AR, Marisi DQ. Note on the heritability of memory span. Behav Genet. 1979;9:379–87.
4. Volk HE, McDermott KB, Roediger HL III, Todd RD. Genetic influences on free and cued recall in long-term memory tasks. Twin Res Hum Genet. 2006;9:623–31.
5. Vogler C, Gschwind L, Coynel D, et al. Substantial SNP-based heritability estimates for working memory performance. Transl Psychiatry. 2014;4:e438.
6. Zhu ZJ, Chen BQ, Yan HM, Fang W, Zhou Q, Zhou SB, Lei H, Huang AL, Chen TM, Gao TM, Chen L, Chen JY, Ni DS, Gu YP, Liu JN, Zhang WX, Rao Y (2018). Multi-level genomic analyses suggest new genetic variants involved in human memory. Eur J Hum Genet published online July 3rd, 2018
7. Zhu ZJ, Wang YY, Cao ZJ, Chen BQ, Cai HQ, Wu YH, Rao Y (2016). Cue-independent memory impairment by reactivation-coupled interference in human declarative memory. Cognition 155:125-134.
8. Chen BQ, Zhu ZJ, Wang YY, Ding XH, Guo XB, He MG, Fang W, Zhou SB, Zhou Q, Huang AL, Chen TM, Ni DS, Gu YP, Liu JN, Lei H, Rao Y (2018). Nature vs. nurture in human sociality: multi-level genomic analyses of social conformity. J Hum Genet 63:605-619.