April 13, 2024

AI finds genes that shape personality

Summary: Our personalities can significantly influence genetic expression, providing new insights into the mind-body connection. Using data from the long-term Young Finns Study, researchers discovered a network of 4,000 genes that adapt their expression based on individuals’ personality traits, impacting health and well-being.

The study identified two crucial discoveries: a modular genetic network expressed in specific regions of the brain related to the inheritance of human personality and a control center of six evolutionarily preserved genes that coordinate emotional and meaningful processing. These groundbreaking findings suggest that promoting a creative, self-transcendent view of life can improve well-being and health by regulating gene expression.

Key facts:

  1. Personality traits influence the expression of a network of 4,000 genes, highlighting the profound interconnection between our mental state and biological functioning.
  2. A control center of six genes, preserved throughout evolution, plays a central role in regulating emotions and meaning, highlighting the potential of self-awareness to improve health.
  3. The study suggests that adopting a creative, self-transcendent perspective on life can positively impact genetic expression, offering a new path to improving well-being and longevity.

Source: University of Granada

An international study led by UGR using artificial intelligence showed that our personalities alter the expression of our genes. The findings shed new light on the long-standing mystery of how the mind and body interact.

The study, published in Molecular Psychiatry, examines how an individual’s personality and underlying outlook on life regulate their genetic expression and thus affect their health and well-being. It is the first study to measure genome-wide transcription in relation to human personality.

The researchers led the multi- and interdisciplinary study from the Andalusian Interuniversity Research Institute in Data Science and Computational Intelligence (DaSCI), the UGR Department of Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence and the Biohealth Research Institute of Granada (ibs. GRANADA ).

It was carried out in collaboration with Professor Robert Cloninger (Washington University in St. Louis), researchers from Baylor College of Medicine (Texas, USA) and the Young Finns Study (Finland).

The international research team (composed of experts in genetics, medicine, psychology and computer science) used data from the Young Finns Study, an extensive study carried out in the general population of Finland over four decades, during which relevant information was collected about the participants. health, physical condition and lifestyle.

Additionally, participants underwent extensive personality assessments that addressed both temperament (habits and emotional reactivity) and character (conscious goals and values). The results showed that certain life perspectives lead to a healthy, full and long life, while others lead to a stressful, unhealthy and short life.

The study analyzed the regulation of gene expression in these individuals, taking into account three levels of self-awareness that were measured through their combined temperament and character profiles.

These levels were designated as “unregulated” – individuals dominated by irrational emotions and habits associated with their traditions and obedience to authority; “organized” – self-sufficient individuals, capable of intentionally regulating their habits and cooperating with others for mutual benefit; and, finally, “creatives” – self-transcending individuals who adapt their habits to live in harmony with others, with nature or with the universe, even if this requires occasional personal sacrifices.

Two main findings

As Coral del Val, UGR researcher and co-lead author of the study, explains: “In our research, we made two important discoveries about the expression and organization of genes according to the personality profiles of these individuals.

First, we discovered a network of 4,000 genes grouped into multiple modules expressed in specific regions of the brain. Some of these genes had already been associated in previous studies with the inheritance of human personality.”

“Second, we discovered that the modules formed a functional interaction network capable of orchestrating changes in gene expression to adapt to diverse internal and external conditions. The modules were switched on and off flexibly, facilitating adaptation to the day-to-day challenges we all face and choreographing our development.”

The researchers showed that the two subnets orchestrated changes in the interaction patterns between these modules. The patterns of interactions between these modules were orchestrated by two subnets.

One network regulated emotional reactivity (anxiety, fear, etc.), while the other regulated what a person perceives as meaningful (e.g., concept and language production).

“The most remarkable thing is the fact that the networks of emotion and meaning are coordinated by a control center made up of six genes”, observes Elisa Díaz de la Guardia-Bolívar, the other co-lead author of the study.

“It is particularly interesting that we discovered that the six control center genes are highly preserved throughout evolution, from single-celled organisms to modern humans. This discovery confirms its beneficial role in regulating the functioning of all forms of life on Earth”, he adds.

Identifying these genetic networks and the control center that regulates gene expression in humans has practical value because it shows how people can improve the quality of their health, happiness and overall quality of everyday life, despite the challenges and stresses we all face. .

Igor Zwir from UGR explains: “In previous research, we found significant differences in well-being between people in the three personality groups, depending on their level of self-awareness. Specifically, those with greater self-awareness (the creative group) reported greater well-being compared to the organized, unregulated groups.”

“We now show that these levels of self-awareness are also strongly associated with the regulation of gene expression in the same order (creative > organized > unregulated). This suggests that a person can improve their health and well-being by cultivating a more self-transcendent and creative view of life.”

However, it cautions that it has not yet been confirmed whether the regulation of gene expression through interventions that increase self-awareness is the mediating factor in the association between self-awareness and well-being.

However, treatments that promote greater self-transcendence and mindfulness have also been shown to contribute to improvements in all aspects of health, including physical, mental, social and spiritual well-being. It is therefore plausible that regulation of gene expression is the true mediator in this association.

As the researchers predicted, certain types of genes, such as transcription factors, microRNAs, and long non-coding RNAs, showed extensive enrichment in the 4,000-gene integrated molecular network. However, the most significant enrichment was observed in a group of RNAs thought to have played a crucial role in the origin of cellular life.

These RNAs have the ability to form membraneless compartments and carry out chemical reactions, allowing them to quickly adapt to stress. This process, known as liquid-liquid phase separation (LLPS), creates a comprehensive bioreactor in which chemicals essential to life can be synthesized.

“We are delighted to discover the important roles of different types of genes in health and personality. It is incredible to see that evolution has preserved genes thought to have been important in the origin of life, allowing for the increasing plasticity, complexity and consciousness we see in humans.”

“The innovative computational methods used in this project allow us to study complex biological systems in humans in an ethical, non-intrusive and beneficial way, with the aim of understanding how to live healthily”, says Professor Cloninger.

He adds: “These findings clearly demonstrate that a person’s mind and body are deeply interconnected. One influences the other, which is why they are not separate. It is important to recognize that our past or present conditions do not entirely determine our future well-being; instead, we can cultivate our own well-being in a creative process full of open possibilities.”

About This AI, Personality, and Genetics Research News

Author: Coral del Val
Source: University of Granada
Contact: Coral del Val – University of Granada
Image: Image is credited to Neuroscience News

Original research: Free access.
“Gene expression networks regulated by human personality” by Coral del Val et al. Molecular Psychiatry


Gene expression networks regulated by human personality

Genome-wide association studies of human personality have been performed, but genome-wide transcription has not been studied in relation to personality in humans.

We collected genomic expression profiles of adults to characterize the regulation of expression and function in genes related to human personality. We have developed an innovative multiomics approach to network analysis to identify key control elements and interactions in multimodular networks.

We identified sets of gene transcripts that were coexpressed in specific regions of the brain with genes known to be associated with personality. We then identified the minimal networks for the co-located genes using bioinformatics resources.

Participants were 459 adults from the Young Finns Study who completed the Temperament and Character Inventory and provided peripheral blood for genomic and transcriptomic analysis.

We identified an extrinsic network of 45 seed gene regulatory genes in brain regions involved in the self-regulation of emotional reactivity to extracellular stimuli (e.g., anxiety autoregulation) and an intrinsic network of 43 seed gene regulatory genes in involved brain regions. in self-regulation of interpretations of meaning (e.g., production of concepts and language).

We found that interactions between the two networks were coordinated by a control center of 3 miRNAs and 3 protein-coding genes shared by both. Control center interactions with proteins and ncRNAs have identified more than 100 genes that directly overlap with known personality-related genes and more than another 4,000 genes that interact indirectly.

We conclude that the six-gene hub is the crux of an integrative network that orchestrates information transfer across a multimodular system of more than 4,000 genes enriched in RNAs related to liquid-liquid phase separation (LLPS), diverse transcription factors , and hominin-specific miRNAs and lncRNAs.

Gene expression networks associated with human personality regulate neuronal plasticity, epigenesis, and adaptive functioning through interactions of salience and meaning in self-awareness.

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