Gene Expression

Humans, being who we are, are really interested in how our external phenotype is shaped. Since the year 2000 many of the genetic underpinnings of the gross physical features which we use to categorize people, the sort of thing that might show up in a people description, have been elucidated. We know, for example, the genes which control variation in skin color to a first approximation at this point. It also seems that we’ve zeroed in on the primary gene responsible for eye color variation. Additionally, recently there’s been the discovery of the gene which seems to control East Asian hair form, EDAR. At my other weblog p-ter posts on a new paper, Enhanced ectodysplasin-A receptor (EDAR) signaling alters multiple fiber characteristics to produce the East Asian hair form. Go there for the summary and awesome picture of the “Asian” mice.

Comments

  1. #1 Ian
    June 25, 2008

    It used to be a kind of canard that the genome is blind to race, but we’re finding the truth now. Obviously such phenotypic differences have to originate somewhere in the genome!

    Are we approaching a point where criminal forensics will be able to give us the race of the perp if we have enough DNA to look at?

    More interestingly, are we approaching a point in the not-too-distant future where a person’s race can be chosen by the parents?

  2. #2 razib
    June 25, 2008

    Are we approaching a point where criminal forensics will be able to give us the race of the perp if we have enough DNA to look at?

    we’re pretty much already there. you can even tell if the perp has blue eyes with something like 90% certainty.

    More interestingly, are we approaching a point in the not-too-distant future where a person’s race can be chosen by the parents?

    i suspect cosmetics will do this quicker than genome engineering, but with complexion you know what type of loci to target.

  3. #3 Jason Malloy
    June 25, 2008

    Are we approaching a point where criminal forensics will be able to give us the race of the perp if we have enough DNA to look at?

    We’ve had this ability for a number of years now.

  4. #4 Richard Eis
    July 1, 2008

    More interestingly, are we approaching a point in the not-too-distant future where a person’s race can be chosen by the parents?

    Yes, but then the whole matter of race would not mean anything anymore. Something I personally cannot wait for.