Multilocus genetic models of handedness closely resemble single-locus models in explaining family data and are compatible with genome-wide association studies


  • [The copyright line for this article was changed on July 18, 2014 after original online publication.]


Right- and left-handedness run in families, show greater concordance in monozygotic than dizygotic twins, and are well described by single-locus Mendelian models. Here we summarize a large genome-wide association study (GWAS) that finds no significant associations with handedness and is consistent with a meta-analysis of GWASs. The GWAS had 99% power to detect a single locus using the conventional criterion of P < 5 × 10−8 for the single locus models of McManus and Annett. The strong conclusion is that handedness is not controlled by a single genetic locus. A consideration of the genetic architecture of height, primary ciliary dyskinesia, and intelligence suggests that handedness inheritance can be explained by a multilocus variant of the McManus DC model, classical effects on family and twins being barely distinguishable from the single locus model. Based on the ENGAGE meta-analysis of GWASs, we estimate at least 40 loci are involved in determining handedness.