Linking Lysosomal Enzyme Targeting Genes and Energy Metabolism with Altered Gray Matter Volume in Children with Persistent Stuttering

Ho Ming Chow, Emily O. Garnett, Hua Li, Andrew Etchell, Jorge Sepulcre, Dennis Drayna, Diane Chugani, Soo Eun Chang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Developmental stuttering is a childhood onset neurodevelopmental disorder with an unclear etiology. Subtle changes in brain structure and function are present in both children and adults who stutter. It is a highly heritable disorder, and 12–20% of stuttering cases may carry a mutation in one of four genes involved in intracellular trafficking. To better understand the relationship between genetics and neuroanatomical changes, we used gene expression data from the Allen Institute for Brain Science and voxel-based morphometry to investigate the spatial correspondence between gene expression patterns and differences in gray matter volume between children with persistent stuttering (n = 26, and 87 scans) and their fluent peers (n = 44, and 139 scans). We found that the expression patterns of two stuttering-related genes (GNPTG and NAGPA) from the Allen Institute data exhibited a strong positive spatial correlation with the magnitude of between-group gray matter volume differences. Additional gene set enrichment analyses revealed that genes whose expression was highly correlated with the gray matter volume differences were enriched for glycolysis and oxidative metabolism in mitochondria. Because our current study did not examine the participants’ genomes, these results cannot establish the direct association between genetic mutations and gray matter volume differences in stuttering. However, our results support further study of the involvement of lysosomal enzyme targeting genes, as well as energy metabolism in stuttering. Future studies assessing variations of these genes in the participants’ genomes may lead to increased understanding of the biological mechanisms of the observed spatial relationship between gene expression and gray matter volume.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)365-380
Number of pages16
JournalNeurobiology of Language
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1 Jul 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Published under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) license.


  • Longitudinal
  • Lysosome
  • Metabolism
  • Stuttering
  • Voxel-based morphometry


Dive into the research topics of 'Linking Lysosomal Enzyme Targeting Genes and Energy Metabolism with Altered Gray Matter Volume in Children with Persistent Stuttering'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this