Researchers from Yale have achieved a breakthrough in the genetics of reading disorders. On chromosome 6, they’ve identified a gene called DCDC2 and linked it to dyslexia:
Dr. Gruen and co-authors used a statistical approach to study and compare specific DNA markers in 153 dyslexic families. “We now have strong statistical evidence that a large number of dyslexic cases – perhaps as many as 20 percent – are due to the DCDC2 gene,” said Gruen. “The genetic alteration on this chromosome is a large deletion of a regulatory region. The gene itself is expressed in reading centers of the brain where it modulates migration of neurons. This very architecture of the brain circuitry is necessary for normal reading.”
To facilitate reading, brain circuits need to communicate with each other. In reading disabilities, these circuits are disrupted. In people with dyslexia, compensatory brain circuits are inefficient and they have a hard time learning to read.
The research effort was thwarted for years, until it was discovered that scientists were accidentally studying gene CDCD2.
More from Dr. Gruen’s laboratory…