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KIBRA Gene Variant Is Associated with Ability in Chess and Science

Ahmetov, Ildus I; Valeeva, Elena V; Yerdenova, Meruert B; Datkhabayeva, Gaukhar K; Bouzid, Amal; Bhamidimarri, Poorna Manasa; Sharafetdinova, Liliya M; ... Rees, Tim; + view all (2023) KIBRA Gene Variant Is Associated with Ability in Chess and Science. Genes , 14 (1) , Article 204. 10.3390/genes14010204. Green open access

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Abstract

The kidney and brain expressed protein (KIBRA) plays an important role in synaptic plasticity. Carriers of the T allele of the KIBRA (WWC1) gene rs17070145 C/T polymorphism have been reported to have enhanced spatial ability and to outperform individuals with the CC genotype in working memory tasks. Since ability in chess and science is directly related to spatial ability and working memory, we hypothesized that the KIBRA T allele would be positively associated with chess player status and PhD status in science. We tested this hypothesis in a study involving 2479 individuals (194 chess players, 119 PhD degree holders in STEM fields, and 2166 controls; 1417 males and 1062 females) from three ethnicities (236 Kazakhs, 1583 Russians, 660 Tatars). We found that frequencies of the T allele were significantly higher in Kazakh (66.9 vs. 55.1%; p = 0.024), Russian (44.8 vs. 32.0%; p = 0.0027), and Tatar (51.5 vs. 41.8%; p = 0.035) chess players compared with ethnically matched controls (meta-analysis for CT/TT vs. CC: OR = 2.05, p = 0.0001). In addition, none of the international chess grandmasters (ranked among the 80 best chess players in the world) were carriers of the CC genotype (0 vs. 46.3%; OR = 16.4, p = 0.005). Furthermore, Russian and Tatar PhD holders had a significantly higher frequency of CT/TT genotypes compared with controls (meta-analysis: OR = 1.71, p = 0.009). Overall, this is the first study to provide comprehensive evidence that the rs17070145 C/T polymorphism of the KIBRA gene may be associated with ability in chess and science, with the T allele exerting a beneficial effect.

Type: Article
Title: KIBRA Gene Variant Is Associated with Ability in Chess and Science
Location: Switzerland
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.3390/genes14010204
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.3390/genes14010204
Language: English
Additional information: © 2023 by the Authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).
Keywords: DNA; memory; education; PhD; intelligence; chess; mind sports; analytical ability; scientists; athletes
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Medical Sciences > Div of Surgery and Interventional Sci
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10167922
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