Human DNA plays a key role in shaping facial features. It is the conclusion the researchers came to after finding that over 130 DNA regions are associated with the formation of facial features. It turned out that the nose is one of the features that genes influence the most. And knowledge of how specific genes might be associated with facial features is beneficial for treating abnormalities in facial development and in orthodontics.
It can be assumed that it is fairly obvious without scientific research. It is enough to look into the family album to make sure that the descendants are similar to their ancestors. Most often, family resemblance is determined by the nose, eyes, chin, which are identical and close relatives.
But sometimes there are destructive changes in one or more genes and then the similarity disappears. Surprisingly, but true, until a certain point, the geneticists had no idea what parts of the DNA could be associated with the most basic aspects of a person's appearance. The knowledge gap prevented access to datasets that combine genetic information with facial images. The new study identified over a hundred chromosomal regions that are associated with certain facial features.
It was achieved by scanning the DNA data from more than 800 people. Thus, a search was conducted for a statistical relationship between 7 million genetic markers. All of them are known participants in the genetic code, distinguishing people from each other.
Finding such a link between a facial feature and one or more genetic markers indicates the presence of a precise piece of the DNA on the chromosome. Adjacent genes become potential candidates responsible for the formation of a specific site. It can be the shape of the nose or lips.
The scientists also managed to find out that these chromosomal regions show the highest activity during the period when the face is formed in the embryo. The main place of influence of genes turned out to be the nose.
And, for example, cheeks are not as susceptible to genetic influences, and the scientists believe that they can change depending on diet and lifestyle. There are also genes responsible for the formation of different parts of the body, and there are genes that are involved in rare syndromes and facial abnormalities such as cleft palate.