Gene critical for brain development discovered

Scientists at A*STAR have discovered a gene, KATNB1, which is responsible for the nervous system development in humans. By sequencing the genome of individuals of normal height but with a very small head size, the scientists revealed that these individuals had mutations in the KATNB1 gene, indicating that this gene is important for proper human brain development. Microcephaly (characterized by a ‘small head’) is a condition diagnosed by measuring the baby’s head circumference at birth. Dr. Bruno Reversade’s team has published the data in Neuron, Cell Press. Dr Reversade said, “We will continue to search for other genes important for brain development as they may unlock some of the secrets explaining how we, humans, have evolved such cognitive abilities.”

Prof Birgit Lane, Executive Director of IMB, said, “This is one of a small number of genes that scientists have found to be vital for brain development. The work is therefore an important advance in understanding the human brain. The team’s findings provide a new platform from which to look further into whether – and how – this gene can be used for targeted therapeutic applications.” Prof Hong Wanjin, Executive Director of IMCB, said, “This coordinated effort shows the increasingly collaborative nature of science. As the complexity and interdisciplinary nature of research evolves, so do the networks of collaborations between research institutes at A*STAR and across continents.”

The above story is based on materials provided by A*Star Agency for Science, Technology and Research:

Full details of the discovery can be accessed online at:

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