Genetic mechanisms underlying brain functional homotopy: a combined transcriptome and resting-state functional MRI study

Cereb Cortex. 2023 Mar 21;33(7):3387-3400. doi: 10.1093/cercor/bhac279.


Functional homotopy, the high degree of spontaneous activity synchrony and functional coactivation between geometrically corresponding interhemispheric regions, is a fundamental characteristic of the intrinsic functional architecture of the brain. However, little is known about the genetic mechanisms underlying functional homotopy. Resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging data from a discovery dataset (656 healthy subjects) and 2 independent cross-race, cross-scanner validation datasets (103 and 329 healthy subjects) were used to calculate voxel-mirrored homotopic connectivity (VMHC) indexing brain functional homotopy. In combination with the Allen Human Brain Atlas, transcriptome-neuroimaging spatial correlation analysis was conducted to identify genes linked to VMHC. We found 1,001 genes whose expression measures were spatially associated with VMHC. Functional enrichment analyses demonstrated that these VMHC-related genes were enriched for biological functions including protein kinase activity, ion channel regulation, and synaptic function as well as many neuropsychiatric disorders. Concurrently, specific expression analyses showed that these genes were specifically expressed in the brain tissue, in neurons and immune cells, and during nearly all developmental periods. In addition, the VMHC-associated genes were linked to multiple behavioral domains, including vision, execution, and attention. Our findings suggest that interhemispheric communication and coordination involve a complex interaction of polygenes with a rich range of functional features.

Keywords: Allen Human Brain Atlas; functional homotopy; gene expression; interhemispheric functional connectivity; resting-state functional MRI.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Brain
  • Brain Mapping / methods
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging*
  • Neuroimaging
  • Transcriptome*