Jin-kai Wang1,2,4, Yi Li3 and Bing Su1,2,*
1 State Key Laboratory of Genetic Resources and Evolution, Kunming Institute of Zoology 2 Kunming Primate Research Centre, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Kunming, Yunnan, PR China 3 Department of Chemistry and Life Science, Qujing Normal University, Qujing, Yunnan, PR China 4 Graduate School of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, PR China
Received November 17, 2007; Revised December 23, 2007; Accepted January 16, 2008
Microcephaly (MCPH) genes are informative in understanding the genetics and evolution of human brain volume. MCPH1 and abnormal spindle-like MCPH associated (ASPM) are the two known MCPH causing genes that were suggested undergone recent positive selection in human populations. However, previous studies focusing only on the two tag single nucleotide polymorphisms(SNPs) of MCPH1 and ASPM failed to detect any correlation between gene polymorphisms and variations of brain volume and cognitive abilities. We conducted an association study on eight common SNPs of MCPH1 and ASPM in a Chinese population of 867 unrelated individuals. We demonstrate that a non-synonymous SNP (rs1057090, V761A in BRCA1 C-terminus (BRCT) domain) of MCPH1 other than the two known tag SNPs is significantly associated with cranial volume in Chinese males. The haplotype analysis confirmed the association of rs1057090 with cranial volume, and the homozygote males containing the derived alleles of rs1057090 have larger cranial volumes compared with those containing the ancestral alleles. No recent selection signal can be detected on this SNP, suggesting that the brain volume variation in human populations is likely neutral or under very weak selection in recent human history.
I don’t know if it makes the brain any bigger or better though. Although, I’ve seen a few studies that positively correlate brain size and IQ from MRI scans.