Thursday, January 24, 2019

Genes that have Effect on Head and Brain Size

            It was recently discovered that the size of children heads is not only related to the size of their skull, but also to the size of their brain. This discovery was published in Nature Communications, on how a genome-wide analysis can identify the genetic effects of head size and if it is related to the size of the brain. Up until the age of six, children and baby heads are measured throughout their life to make sure they are having healthy growth developments with their brain as they age. However, scientists at the Max Planck Institute (MPI) researched a genome-wide study (GWAS) with 46,000 adult and children to collect data on the effects of head size and brain size. The team suggests from the data collected, that an adult’s final head size is genetically predicted at a young age. The team also discovered that a rare gene, that about only two percent of the population contains, is called TP53. TP53 is a gene that encodes for p53, which controls cell division. TP53 is known to have mutations, but p53 is known as a gene to thicken the membrane of the skull bone, which can result in a larger brain size. 
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An infant with a tape measure in the background as if to measure its head.       Although this article is very interesting that scientists are researching genes that can determine how large a person’s brain can become just by measuring the size of a person’s head when they are a baby. I do not think that the scientists have enough information to be able to say they can measure a baby’s head and determine if that baby will grow up and be the smartest child in school or an average child in school. The scientists only discovered that the TP53 gene can encode to the p53 protein which may be a factor to the thickness of a person’s skull, but this gene is only found in about two percent of the population. There would need to be more studies on the TP53 gene to determine if it actually is the factor for a larger head size, which can then determine if a larger head size results in a larger brain.

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