Calmodulin-binding transcription activator 1 (CAMTA1) alleles predispose human episodic memory performance


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Abstract

Little is known about the genes and proteins involved in the process of human memory. To identify genetic factors related to human episodic memory performance, we conducted an ultra-high-density genome-wide screen at > 500 000 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in a sample of normal young adults stratified for performance on an episodic recall memory test. Analysis of this data identified SNPs within the calmodulin-binding transcription activator 1 (CAMTA1) gene that were significantly associated with memory performance. A follow up study, focused on the CAMTA1 locus in an independent cohort consisting of cognitively normal young adults, singled out SNP rs4908449 with a P-value of 0.0002 as the most significant associated SNP in the region. These validated genetic findings were further supported by the identification of CAMTA1 transcript enrichment in memory-related human brain regions and through a functional magnetic resonance imaging experiment on individuals matched for memory performance that identified CAMTA1 allele-specific upregulation of medial temporal lobe brain activity in those individuals harboring the ‘at-risk’ allele for poorer memory performance. The CAMTA1 locus encodes a purported transcription factor that interfaces with the calcium-calmodulin system of the cell to alter gene expression patterns. Our validated genomic and functional biological findings described herein suggest a role for CAMTA1 in human episodic memory.

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