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Scientists Discover Genes Associated with Nose Shape

May 23, 2016 05:01 AM EDT
Scientists identified four genes responsible for the bone and cartilage width of noses that have evolved to adapt in the temparature and humidity of the environment.
(Photo : Mike Simons/Getty Images)

A recent study led by University College London has identified genes responsible for shaping human nose.

The study, published in the journal Nature Communications, suggests that the width and "pointiness" of human nose is being influenced by four different genes that each plays a crucial role in shaping the olfactory organ.

"Finding out the role each gene plays helps us to piece together the evolutionary path from Neanderthal to modern humans. It brings us closer to understanding how genes influence the way we look, which is important for forensics applications," said the first author of the report, Dr Kaustubh Adhikari, UCL Cell & Developmental Biology, in a statement.

For the study, researchers analyzed more than 6,000 people from Colombia, Peru, Brazil, Chile and Mexico participating in the CANDELA study. After initial screening, the researchers chose 5,958 people for the study, 50 percent of which belongs to mixed European Heritage, 45 percent were Native Americans, and the remaining 5 percent came from African ancestry.

All the participants were assessed for 14 different facial features and a whole genome analysis to identify the genes responsible for the differences in appearance. A sub-group of 3,000 participants was also created to undergo 3D reconstruction of their face to obtain exact measurement of their facial features.

Their analysis found four genes that are associated with bone and cartilage growth and the development of the face. These genes are GLI3, DCHS2, PAX1 and RUNX2. PAX1 and GLI3 control and influence the breadth in nostrils, DCHS2 controls the "pointiness" of the nose while RUNX2 influences the growth of the nose bridge width.

In addition to the four aforementioned genes, researcher also discovered a gene called EDAR, which affects chin protrusion.

 According to the report from India Today, researchers believe that the environment where people live greatly influences the evolution of human genome and their nose shape.

For example, people living in places with cold and dry climate tend to have a comparatively narrower nose to help regulate the temperature and humidity of the air being breadth.

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