Navigation Links
Shake hands with the invisible man

Like DNA, fingerprints are unique to each person or set of identical twins. That makes them a valuable identification tool for everything from crime detection to international travel. But what happens when the tips of our fingers are missing those distinctive patterns of ridges?

It's not the premise for a science fiction movie, but a real-life condition known as adermatoglyphia. It's also known as "Immigration Delay Disease," because affected individuals experience difficulty in passing through security or checkpoints where fingerprint identification is required. Now Prof. Eli Sprecher from Tel Aviv University's Sackler Faculty of Medicine and the Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center has identified the genetic mutation responsible for this unusual condition.

Though adermatoglyphia itself is extremely rare, defects that stem from any one genetic mutation give researchers unique insights into the most complex biological phenomena, such as the consequences of lacking a single protein.

The findings have been published in the American Journal of Human Genetics.

Baffling border control

"Immigration Delay Disease" came to the attention of the medical community when it did just that delay the attempts of one Swiss woman to cross the border into the United States, which requires that non-citizens be fingerprinted upon entry. Border control personnel were mystified when the woman informed them that she was unable to comply.

Though an exceptionally rare condition only four documented families are known to suffer from the disease worldwide Prof. Sprecher was inspired to delve deeper into the causes of the condition, which, in addition to causing an absence of fingerprints, also leads to a reduction in the number of sweat glands. Abnormal fingerprints can also be a warning sign of more severe disorders.

Scientists know that fingerprints are fully formed 24 weeks after fertilization, and do not change throughout our lives. But "the factors underlying the formation and pattern of fingerprints during embryonic development are largely unknown," says Prof. Sprecher. He adds that it isn't only fingertips that have patterned skin palms, toes, and the soles of the feet also feature these ridges, called dermatoglyphs.

To determine the cause of this rare condition, the researchers did a genetic analysis of the Swiss family, nine of whom have no fingerprints. They compared the genes of those with adermatoglyphia and those without to identify where the genetic alteration lies. They discovered that a skin-specific version of the gene SMARCAD1 has a regulating factor on fingerprint development. The group that presented with adermatoglyphia, Prof. Sprecher explains, were found to have decreased levels of the short skin-specific version of the gene.

An inconvenience, but little more

Now that this gene has been identified, researchers will be able to further investigate how SMARCAD1 regulates fingerprint development. While adermatoglyphia may be intriguing, and can certainly be problematic for border security, it's also non-threatening. Despite the minor issue of the hand's inability to produce sweat, says Prof. Sprecher, those affected do not otherwise suffer.

This research was carried out in collaboration with Dr. Janna Nousbeck of the Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center and Prof. Peter Itin of the University Hospital at Basel, Switzerland.


Contact: George Hunka
American Friends of Tel Aviv University

Related biology news :

1. ExcellGene SA first company to offer contract manufacturing in 250 Liter OrbShake bioreactor
2. Trembling hands and molecular handshakes
3. Canadians finding it tough to shake the salt habit
4. Novel publishing approach puts textbook in more hands
5. Dog owners more likely to share germs with pets by not washing hands than by sleeping with dog
6. PyroHands: NC State receives grant to develop next generation firefighter gloves
7. MINDEF, NTU join hands to boost Singapores defense R&D capabilities
8. For African violets, hands off means healthier
9. Hands-on: From classroom to employment
10. GenWay Biotechs You Test You puts early cancer detection tool in the hands of consumers
11. NJIT engineer helps stroke patients regain motor functions in hands, arms
Post Your Comments:
(Date:11/4/2015)... November 4, 2015 --> ... report published by Transparency Market Research "Home Security Solutions Market ... Forecast 2015 - 2022", the global home security solutions market is ... by 2022. The market is estimated to expand at ... 2015 to 2022. Rising security needs among customers at ...
(Date:10/29/2015)... , Oct. 29, 2015   MedNet Solutions , ... entire spectrum of clinical research, is pleased to announce ... Tech Association (MHTA) as one of only three finalists ... "Software – Small and Growing" category. The Tekne Awards honor ... have shown superior technology innovation and leadership. ...
(Date:10/29/2015)... , Oct. 29, 2015 Daon, a ... that it has released a new version of its ... in North America have already ... v4.0 also includes a FIDO UAF certified server ... already preparing to activate FIDO features. These customers include ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:11/25/2015)... 2015 The Global Genomics ... professional and in-depth study on the current state ... ) , The report ... definitions, classifications, applications and industry chain structure. The ... markets including development trends, competitive landscape analysis, and ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... , Nov. 24, 2015 Halozyme Therapeutics, Inc. (NASDAQ: ... in New York on Wednesday, December 2 ... Torley , president and CEO, will provide a corporate overview. ... York at 1:00 p.m. ET/10:00 a.m. PT . ... relations, will provide a corporate overview. --> th ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... -- Clintrax Global, Inc., a worldwide provider of clinical research services headquartered ... the company has set a new quarterly earnings record in Q3 ... posted for Q3 of 2014 to Q3 of 2015.   ... , with the establishment of an Asia-Pacific ... United Kingdom and Mexico , with ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... New York , November 24, 2015 ... to a recent market research report released by Transparency ... projected to expand at a CAGR of 17.5% during ... "Non-invasive Prenatal Testing Market - Global Industry Analysis, Size, ... estimates the global non-invasive prenatal testing market to reach ...
Breaking Biology Technology: