12 March 2009

Eye color can be determined by six single nucleotide polymorphisms

A method for determining the color of a person's eyes based on his genome is demonstrated
Dmitry Safin, CompulentaSince new information about the influence of genes on the development of important human characteristics from the point of view of medicine (for example, predisposition to certain diseases) is received almost continuously, experts hope in the future to learn how to determine the probability of the manifestation of specific traits based on the results of genome analysis alone — the sequence of DNA nucleotides bases.

A group of researchers from the University named after Erasmus of Rotterdam (the Netherlands), led by Manfred Kayser, in practice assessed the reality of the task: scientists found out that the color of human eyes (blue or brown) can be predicted by analyzing six different sections of the genome. At the same time, the prediction accuracy exceeds 90 percent.

As is known, the color of a person's eyes is determined by several genes, or rather by minimal differences in DNA sequences in some parts of these genes; such differences are called "single nucleotide polymorphisms" (SNPs). Six thousand Dutch people took part in the experiment of Manfred Kaiser's group; in each case, scientists determined the type of DNA sequence for 37 SNPs located in eight genes. As it turned out, eye color can be predicted with 90% accuracy by only six of the most "clear" SNPs from six different genes. Such figures, however, refer only to blue and brown colors; the appearance of an intermediate shade, noted in ten percent of volunteers, can be predicted only with an accuracy of 75%.

Obviously, the results of the study can be viewed from different points of view. Indeed, scientists have proved the fundamental possibility of directly determining the specific features of a person by the structure of his genome. A wide variety of specialists are looking forward to the practical implementation of such technologies; they are expected to find the widest application in medicine and criminology.

On the other hand, the use of the method limits the need to accurately identify the genes that influence a particular characteristic of a person. In addition, scientists have demonstrated the effectiveness of the technology on the example of representatives of only one ethnic group; clear boundaries of the applicability of the method have yet to be determined.

The full version of the researchers' report is published in the journal Current Biology.

Prepared based on the materials of PhysOrg.

Portal "Eternal youth" www.vechnayamolodost.ru12.03.2009

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