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Self-Reported Sexual Behavioral Interests and Polymorphisms in the Dopamine Receptor D4 (DRD4) Exon III VNTR in Heterosexual Young Adults. - Archives of sexual behavior
Polymorphisms in the dopamine D4 receptor (DRD4) have previously been shown to associate with a variety of human behavioral phenotypes, including ADHD pathology, alcohol and tobacco craving, financial risk-taking in males, and broader personality traits such as novelty seeking. Recent research has linked the presence of a 7-repeat (7R) allele in a 48-bp variable number of tandem repeats (VNTR) along exon III of DRD4 to age at first sexual intercourse, sexual desire, arousal and function, and infidelity and promiscuity. We hypothesized that carriers of longer DRD4 alleles may report interest in a wider variety of sexual behaviors and experiences than noncarriers. Participants completed a 37-item questionnaire measuring sexual interests as well as Cloninger's Temperament and Character Inventory, and were genotyped for the 48-bp VNTR on exon III of DRD4. Based on our final genotyped sample of female (nÂ =Â 139) and male (nÂ =Â 115) participants, we found that 7R carriers reported interest in a wider variety of sexual behaviors (rÂ =Â 0.16) within a young adult heterosexual sample of European descent. To our knowledge, this is the first reported association between DRD4 exon III VNTR genotype and interest in a variety of sexual behaviors. We discuss these findings within the context of DRD4 research and broader trends in human evolutionary history.
The conditioning of intervention effects on early adolescent alcohol use by maternal involvement and dopamine receptor D4 (DRD4) and serotonin transporter linked polymorphic region (5-HTTLPR) genetic variants. - Development and psychopathology
Data drawn from the in-home subsample of the PROSPER intervention dissemination trial were used to investigate the moderation of intervention effects on underage alcohol use by maternal involvement and candidate genes. The primary gene examined was dopamine receptor D4 (DRD4). Variation in this gene and maternal involvement were hypothesized to moderate the influence of intervention status on alcohol use. The PROSPER data used were drawn from 28 communities randomly assigned to intervention or comparison conditions. Participating youth were assessed in five in-home interviews from sixth to ninth grades. A main effect of sixth-grade pretest maternal involvement on ninth-grade alcohol use was found. Neither intervention status nor DRD4 variation was unconditionally linked to ninth-grade drinking. However, moderation analyses revealed a significant three-way interaction among DRD4 status, maternal involvement, and intervention condition. Follow-up analyses revealed that prevention reduced drinking risk, but only for youth with at least one DRD4 seven-repeat allele who reported average or greater pretest levels of maternal involvement. To determine if this conditional pattern was limited to the DRD4 gene, we repeated analyses using the serotonin transporter linked polymorphic region site near the serotonin transporter gene. The results for this supplemental analysis revealed a significant three-way interaction similar but not identical to that found for DRD4.
An investigation of matching symmetry in the human pinnae with possible implications for 3D ear recognition and sound localization. - Journal of anatomy
The human external ears, or pinnae, have an intriguing shape and, like most parts of the human external body, bilateral symmetry is observed between left and right. It is a well-known part of our auditory sensory system and mediates the spatial localization of incoming sounds in 3D from monaural cues due to its shape-specific filtering as well as binaural cues due to the paired bilateral locations of the left and right ears. Another less broadly appreciated aspect of the human pinna shape is its uniqueness from one individual to another, which is on the level of what is seen in fingerprints and facial features. This makes pinnae very useful in human identification, which is of great interest in biometrics and forensics. Anatomically, the type of symmetry observed is known as matching symmetry, with structures present as separate mirror copies on both sides of the body, and in this work we report the first such investigation of the human pinna in 3D. Within the framework of geometric morphometrics, we started by partitioning ear shape, represented in a spatially dense way, into patterns of symmetry and asymmetry, following a two-factor anova design. Matching symmetry was measured in all substructures of the pinna anatomy. However, substructures that 'stick out' such as the helix, tragus, and lobule also contained a fair degree of asymmetry. In contrast, substructures such as the conchae, antitragus, and antihelix expressed relatively stronger degrees of symmetric variation in relation to their levels of asymmetry. Insights gained from this study were injected into an accompanying identification setup exploiting matching symmetry where improved performance is demonstrated. Finally, possible implications of the results in the context of ear recognition as well as sound localization are discussed.Â© 2014 Anatomical Society.
Maternal PRKAA1 and EDNRA genotypes are associated with birth weight, and PRKAA1 with uterine artery diameter and metabolic homeostasis at high altitude. - Physiological genomics
Low birth weight and intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR) increase the risk of mortality and morbidity during the perinatal period as well as in adulthood. Environmental and genetic factors contribute to IUGR, but the influence of maternal genetic variation on birth weight is largely unknown. We implemented a gene-by-environment study wherein we utilized the growth restrictive effects of high altitude. Multigenerational high-altitude residents (Andeans) are protected from altitude-associated IUGR compared with recent migrants (Europeans). Using a combined cohort of low- and high-altitude European and Andean women, we tested 63 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) from 16 natural selection-nominated candidate gene regions for associations with infant birth weight. We identified significant SNP associations with birth weight near coding regions for two genes involved in oxygen sensing and vascular control, PRKAA1 and EDNRA, respectively. Next, we identified a significant association for the PRKAA1 SNP with an intermediate phenotype, uterine artery diameter, which has been shown to be related to Andean protection from altitude-associated reductions in fetal growth. To explore potential functional relationships for the effect of maternal SNP genotype on birth weight, we evaluated the relationship between maternal PRKAA1 SNP genotype and gene expression patterns in general and, in particular, of key pathways involved in metabolic homeostasis that have been proposed to play a role in the pathophysiology of IUGR. Our observations suggest that maternal genetic variation within genes that regulate oxygen sensing, metabolic homeostasis, and vascular control influence fetal growth and birth weight outcomes and hence Andean adaptation to high altitude.Copyright Â© 2014 the American Physiological Society.
Toward DNA-based facial composites: preliminary results and validation. - Forensic science international. Genetics
The potential of constructing useful DNA-based facial composites is forensically of great interest. Given the significant identity information coded in the human face these predictions could help investigations out of an impasse. Although, there is substantial evidence that much of the total variation in facial features is genetically mediated, the discovery of which genes and gene variants underlie normal facial variation has been hampered primarily by the multipartite nature of facial variation. Traditionally, such physical complexity is simplified by simple scalar measurements defined a priori, such as nose or mouth width or alternatively using dimensionality reduction techniques such as principal component analysis where each principal coordinate is then treated as a scalar trait. However, as shown in previous and related work, a more impartial and systematic approach to modeling facial morphology is available and can facilitate both the gene discovery steps, as we recently showed, and DNA-based facial composite construction, as we show here. We first use genomic ancestry and sex to create a base-face, which is simply an average sex and ancestry matched face. Subsequently, the effects of 24 individual SNPs that have been shown to have significant effects on facial variation are overlaid on the base-face forming the predicted-face in a process akin to a photomontage or image blending. We next evaluate the accuracy of predicted faces using cross-validation. Physical accuracy of the facial predictions either locally in particular parts of the face or in terms of overall similarity is mainly determined by sex and genomic ancestry. The SNP-effects maintain the physical accuracy while significantly increasing the distinctiveness of the facial predictions, which would be expected to reduce false positives in perceptual identification tasks. To the best of our knowledge this is the first effort at generating facial composites from DNA and the results are preliminary but certainly promising, especially considering the limited amount of genetic information about the face contained in these 24 SNPs. This approach can incorporate additional SNPs as these are discovered and their effects documented. In this context we discuss three main avenues of research: expanding our knowledge of the genetic architecture of facial morphology, improving the predictive modeling of facial morphology by exploring and incorporating alternative prediction models, and increasing the value of the results through the weighted encoding of physical measurements in terms of human perception of faces.Copyright Â© 2014 Elsevier Ireland Ltd. All rights reserved.
Natural selection for the Duffy-null allele in the recently admixed people of Madagascar. - Proceedings. Biological sciences / The Royal Society
While gene flow between distantly related populations is increasingly recognized as a potentially important source of adaptive genetic variation for humans, fully characterized examples are rare. In addition, the role that natural selection for resistance to vivax malaria may have played in the extreme distribution of the protective Duffy-null allele, which is nearly completely fixed in mainland sub-Saharan Africa and absent elsewhere, is controversial. We address both these issues by investigating the evolution of the Duffy-null allele in the Malagasy, a recently admixed population with major ancestry components from both East Asia and mainland sub-Saharan Africa. We used genome-wide genetic data and extensive computer simulations to show that the high frequency of the Duffy-null allele in Madagascar can only be explained in the absence of positive natural selection under extreme demographic scenarios involving high genetic drift. However, the observed genomic single nucleotide polymorphism diversity in the Malagasy is incompatible with such extreme demographic scenarios, indicating that positive selection for the Duffy-null allele best explains the high frequency of the allele in Madagascar. We estimate the selection coefficient to be 0.066. Because vivax malaria is endemic to Madagascar, this result supports the hypothesis that malaria resistance drove fixation of the Duffy-null allele in mainland sub-Saharan Africa.Â© 2014 The Author(s) Published by the Royal Society. All rights reserved.
Modeling 3D facial shape from DNA. - PLoS genetics
Human facial diversity is substantial, complex, and largely scientifically unexplained. We used spatially dense quasi-landmarks to measure face shape in population samples with mixed West African and European ancestry from three locations (United States, Brazil, and Cape Verde). Using bootstrapped response-based imputation modeling (BRIM), we uncover the relationships between facial variation and the effects of sex, genomic ancestry, and a subset of craniofacial candidate genes. The facial effects of these variables are summarized as response-based imputed predictor (RIP) variables, which are validated using self-reported sex, genomic ancestry, and observer-based facial ratings (femininity and proportional ancestry) and judgments (sex and population group). By jointly modeling sex, genomic ancestry, and genotype, the independent effects of particular alleles on facial features can be uncovered. Results on a set of 20 genes showing significant effects on facial features provide support for this approach as a novel means to identify genes affecting normal-range facial features and for approximating the appearance of a face from genetic markers.
Technical note: comparing von Luschan skin color tiles and modern spectrophotometry for measuring human skin pigmentation. - American journal of physical anthropology
Prior to the introduction of reflectance spectrophotometry into anthropological field research during the 1950s, human skin color was most commonly classified by visual skin color matching using the von Luschan tiles, a set of 36 standardized, opaque glass tiles arranged in a chromatic scale. Our goal was to establish a conversion formula between the tile-based color matching method and modern reflectance spectrophotometry to make historical and contemporary data comparable. Skin pigmentation measurements were taken on the forehead, inner upper arms, and backs of the hands using both the tiles and a spectrophotometer on 246 participants showing a broad range of skin pigmentation. From these data, a second-order polynomial conversion formula was derived by jackknife analysis to estimate melanin index (M-index) based on tile values. This conversion formula provides a means for comparing modern data to von Luschan tile measurements recorded in historical reports. This is particularly important for populations now extinct, extirpated, or admixed for which tile-based measures of skin pigmentation are the only data available.Copyright Â© 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
Genetic architecture of skin and eye color in an African-European admixed population. - PLoS genetics
Variation in human skin and eye color is substantial and especially apparent in admixed populations, yet the underlying genetic architecture is poorly understood because most genome-wide studies are based on individuals of European ancestry. We study pigmentary variation in 699 individuals from Cape Verde, where extensive West African/European admixture has given rise to a broad range in trait values and genomic ancestry proportions. We develop and apply a new approach for measuring eye color, and identify two major loci (HERC2[OCA2] P = 2.3 Ã— 10(-62), SLC24A5 P = 9.6 Ã— 10(-9)) that account for both blue versus brown eye color and varying intensities of brown eye color. We identify four major loci (SLC24A5 P = 5.4 Ã— 10(-27), TYR P = 1.1 Ã— 10(-9), APBA2[OCA2] P = 1.5 Ã— 10(-8), SLC45A2 P = 6 Ã— 10(-9)) for skin color that together account for 35% of the total variance, but the genetic component with the largest effect (~44%) is average genomic ancestry. Our results suggest that adjacent cis-acting regulatory loci for OCA2 explain the relationship between skin and eye color, and point to an underlying genetic architecture in which several genes of moderate effect act together with many genes of small effect to explain ~70% of the estimated heritability.
Personal DNA testing in college classrooms: perspectives of students and professors. - Genetic testing and molecular biomarkers
Discourse on the integration of personal genetics and genomics into classrooms is increasing; however, limited data have been collected on the perspectives of students and professors. We conducted a cross-sectional survey of undergraduate and graduate students as well as professors at two major universities to assess attitudes regarding the use of personal DNA testing and other personalized activities in college classrooms. Students indicated that they were more likely to enroll (60.2%) in a genetics course if it offered personal DNA testing; undergraduate students were more likely than graduate students to enroll if personal DNA testing was offered (p=0.029). Students who majored in the physical sciences were less likely to enroll than students in the biological or social sciences (p=0.019). Students also indicated that when course material is personalized, the course is more interesting (94.6%) and the material is easier to learn (87.3%). Professors agreed that adding a personalized element increases student interest, participation, and learning (86.0%, 82.6%, and 72.6%, respectively). The results of this study indicate that, overall, students and professors had a favorable view of the integration of personalized information, including personal DNA testing, into classroom activities, and students welcomed more opportunities to participate in personalized activities.
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