Complex Genetic Trait Research Reaches New Heights
For those of you who love a tall tale, the list of genetic variations that determine human height has just experienced a growth spurt. The findings were published by the journal Nature. [Hana Lango Allen et al, Hundreds of variants clustered in genomic loci and biological pathways affect human height ]
Height has a lot to do with genetics. If your parents don’t need a step stool to reach the top shelf, you’re probably right up there, too. About 80 percent of height is due to DNA. The rest depends on diet and other environmental factors.
In the new study, researchers analyzed DNA from more than 180,000 people, looking for genetic differences that dictate height. The scientists, part of a consortium called the Genetic Investigation of Anthropocentric Traits (or GIANT), found 180 gene regions that govern how tall we get.
The variants, 100 of which were previously unknown, aren’t sprinkled randomly around the genome. Many cluster around sets of genes associated with growth, including 21 variants found in or near genes that regulate the building of bone.
Of course even this new list comes up short. The 180 variations account for only 10 percent of the difference between a jockey and a jumpshooter. But the work shows that research into complex genetic traits is getting off the ground.
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