A genome-wide association study identifies five loci influencing facial morphology in Europeans

Liu, F., van der Lijn, F., Schurmann, C., Zhu, G., Chakravarty, M. M., Hysi, P. G., Wollstein, A., Lao, O., de Bruijne, M., Ikram, M. A., van der Lugt, A., Rivadeneira, F., Uitterlinden, A. G., Hofman, A., Niessen, W. J., Homuth, G., de Zubicaray, G., McMahon, K. L., Thompson, P. M., Daboul, A., Puls, R., Hegenscheid, K., Bevan, L., Pausova, Z., Medland, S. E., Montgomery, G. W., Wright, M. J., Wicking, C., Boehringer, S., Spector, T. D., Paus, T., Martin, N. G., Biffar, R., & Kayser, M. (2012) A genome-wide association study identifies five loci influencing facial morphology in Europeans. PLoS ONE, 8(9).

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Abstract

Inter-individual variation in facial shape is one of the most noticeable phenotypes in humans, and it is clearly under genetic regulation; however, almost nothing is known about the genetic basis of normal human facial morphology. We therefore conducted a genome-wide association study for facial shape phenotypes in multiple discovery and replication cohorts, considering almost ten thousand individuals of European descent from several countries. Phenotyping of facial shape features was based on landmark data obtained from three-dimensional head magnetic resonance images (MRIs) and two-dimensional portrait images. We identified five independent genetic loci associated with different facial phenotypes, suggesting the involvement of five candidate genes-PRDM16, PAX3, TP63, C5orf50, and COL17A1-in the determination of the human face. Three of them have been implicated previously in vertebrate craniofacial development and disease, and the remaining two genes potentially represent novel players in the molecular networks governing facial development. Our finding at PAX3 influencing the position of the nasion replicates a recent GWAS of facial features. In addition to the reported GWA findings, we established links between common DNA variants previously associated with NSCL/P at 2p21, 8q24, 13q31, and 17q22 and normal facial-shape variations based on a candidate gene approach. Overall our study implies that DNA variants in genes essential for craniofacial development contribute with relatively small effect size to the spectrum of normal variation in human facial morphology. This observation has important consequences for future studies aiming to identify more genes involved in the human facial morphology, as well as for potential applications of DNA prediction of facial shape such as in future forensic applications.

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ID Code: 85812
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
DOI: 10.1371/journal.pgen.1002932
ISSN: 1553-7390
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Health
Current > Institutes > Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2012 Liu et al.
Copyright Statement: This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
Deposited On: 28 Sep 2015 06:55
Last Modified: 30 Sep 2015 18:24

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