European and American scientists have discovered 15 new genes that determine the characteristics of the human’s face, according to evidence published at the scientific edition “Nature Genetics”.
It is known that DNA determines our appearance, in which the facial shape is included. It is used by doctors for the repair of brain and face injuries, and it is also used by archeologists to make claims about the look of our ancestors.
In order for the work of the scientists to be more effective, it has to be clear which genes exactly from our DNA are responsible for our facial features.
“It is as if we are looking for a needle in a haystack”, Dr Seth Weinberg from Pittsburgh University who participated in the research said. He added that “In the past, scientists selected specific features, including the distance between the eyes or the width of the mouth. They would then look for a connection between this feature and many genes. This has already led to the identification of a number of genes but, of course, the results are limited because only a small set of features are selected and tested”.
In this new study, the scientists looked the facts from a different perspective.
“Our search doesn’t focus on specific traits,” lead author Peter Claes, postdoctoral researcher in electrical engineering, KU Leuven said.
“Furthermore, we also discovered that different genetic variants identified in the study are associated with regions of the genome that influence when, where and how much genes are expressed,” said Joanna Wysocka, professor of chemical and systems biology and of developmental biology, Stanford University.
Seven of the 15 identified genes are linked to the nose, and that’s good news, Claes added.
“A skull doesn’t contain any traces of the nose, which only consists of soft tissue and cartilage,” he said. “Therefore, when forensic scientists want to reconstruct a face on the basis of a skull, the nose is the main obstacle. If the skull also yields DNA, it would become much easier in the future to determine the shape of the nose”, he said.