9/05/2007

Genetic Link to Height

Quote:

The findings, published in the September 2 advance online edition of Nature Genetics, stem from a large-scale effort led by scientists at the Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT, Children’s Hospital Boston, the University of Oxford and Peninsula Medical School, Exeter.

By analyzing DNA from nearly 35,000 people, the researchers zeroed in on a difference in the HMGA2 gene — a ‘C’ written in the DNA code instead of a ‘T’. Inheriting the ‘C’-containing copy of the gene often makes people taller: one copy can add about a half centimeter in height while two copies can add almost a full centimeter.

“Because height is a complex trait, involving a variety of genetic and non-genetic factors, it can teach us valuable lessons about the genetic framework of other complex traits — such as diabetes, cancer and other common human diseases.”said co-senior author Joel Hirschhorn, an associate member of the Broad Institute, a pediatric endocrinologist at Children’s Hospital Boston, and an associate professor of genetics at Harvard Medical School.

Nearly 90% of the variation in height among most human populations can be attributed to DNA. The remainder is due to environmental and lifestyle factors, such as nutrition.

After scrutinizing the initial data, the scientists identified a single letter change — known as a single nucleotide polymorphism or SNP — in the HMGA2 gene as the most promising result.
The genomic find, though, is not the only indication that HMGA2 affects height. Previous studies in mice and humans revealed that a handful of rare stature disorders result from severe mutations in the gene. Taken together, the findings provide strong evidence for a role for HMGA2 in height.





Newswise Science News | Genome Study Shines Light on Genetic Link to Height

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