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Overdominant effect of a CHRNA4 polymorphism on cingulo-opercular network activity and cognitive control

Sadaghiani, Sepideh; Ng, Bernard; Altmann, Andre; Poline, Jean-Baptiste; Banaschewski, Tobias; Bokde, Arun L.W.; Bromberg, Uli; Büchel, Christian; Quinlan, Erin Burke; Conrod, Patricia J.; Desrivières, Sylvane; Flor, Herta; Frouin, Vincent; Garavan, Hugh; Gowland, Penny A.; Gallinat, Jürgen; Heinz, Andreas; Ittermann, Bernd; Martinot, Jean-Luc; Martinot, Marie-Laure Paillère; Lemaitre, Hervé; Nees, Frauke; Orfanos, Dimitri Papadopoulos; Paus, Tomáš; Poustka, Luise; Millenet, Sabina; Fröhner, Juliane H.; Smolka, Michael N.; Walter, Henrik; Whelan, Robert; Schumann, Gunter; Napolioni, Valerio; Greicius, Michael


Sepideh Sadaghiani

Bernard Ng

Andre Altmann

Jean-Baptiste Poline

Tobias Banaschewski

Arun L.W. Bokde

Uli Bromberg

Christian Büchel

Erin Burke Quinlan

Patricia J. Conrod

Sylvane Desrivières

Herta Flor

Vincent Frouin

Hugh Garavan

Jürgen Gallinat

Andreas Heinz

Bernd Ittermann

Jean-Luc Martinot

Marie-Laure Paillère Martinot

Hervé Lemaitre

Frauke Nees

Dimitri Papadopoulos Orfanos

Tomáš Paus

Luise Poustka

Sabina Millenet

Juliane H. Fröhner

Michael N. Smolka

Henrik Walter

Robert Whelan

Gunter Schumann

Valerio Napolioni

Michael Greicius


The nicotinic system plays an important role in cognitive control, and is implicated in several neuropsychiatric conditions. Yet, the contributions of genetic variability in this system to individuals' cognitive control abilities are poorly understood, and the brain processes that mediate such genetic contributions remain largely unidentified. In this first large-scale neuroimaging genetics study of the human nicotinic receptor system (two cohorts, males and females, fMRI total N=1586, behavioral total N=3650), we investigated a common polymorphism of the high-affinity nicotinic receptor α4β2 (rs1044396 on the CHRNA4 gene) previously implicated in behavioral and nicotine-related studies (albeit with inconsistent major/minor allele impacts). Based on our prior neuroimaging findings, we expected this polymorphism to impact neural activity in the cingulo-opercular network involved in core cognitive control processes including maintenance of alertness. Consistent across the cohorts, all cortical areas of the cingulo-opercular network showed higher activity in heterozygotes compared to both types of homozygotes during cognitive engagement. This inverted U-shaped relation reflects an overdominant effect, i.e. allelic interaction (cumulative evidence p=1.33*10-5). Furthermore, heterozygotes performed more accurately in behavioral tasks that primarily depend on sustained alertness. No effects were observed for haplotypes of the surrounding CHRNA4 region, supporting a true overdominant effect at rs1044396. As a possible mechanism, we observed that this polymorphism is an expression quantitative trait locus (eQTL) modulating CHRNA4 expression levels. This is the first report of overdominance in the nicotinic system. These findings connect CHRNA4genotype, cingulo-opercular network activation and sustained alertness, providing insights into how genetics shapes individuals' cognitive control abilities.

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date Oct 4, 2017
Journal Journal of Neuroscience
Electronic ISSN 1529-2401
Publisher Society for Neuroscience
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 37
Issue 40
Pages 9657-9666
APA6 Citation Sadaghiani, S., Ng, B., Altmann, A., Poline, J., Banaschewski, T., Bokde, A. L., …Greicius, M. (2017). Overdominant effect of a CHRNA4 polymorphism on cingulo-opercular network activity and cognitive control. Journal of Neuroscience, 37(40), 9657-9666. doi:10.1523/JNEUROSCI.0991-17.2017
Publisher URL
Copyright Statement Copyright information regarding this work can be found at the following address: http://eprints.nottingh.../end_user_agreement.pdf


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Copyright Statement
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