Navigation Links
High and mighty: first common height gene identified by researchers behind 'obesity gene' finding
Date:9/2/2007

Whilst we all know that tall parents are more likely to have tall children, scientists have been unable to identify any common genes that make people taller than others. Now, however, scientists have identified the first gene, known as HMGA2, a common variant of which directly influences height.

The difference in height between a person carrying two copies of the variant and a person carrying no copies is just under 1cm in height, so does not on its own explain the range of heights across the population. However, the researchers believe the findings may prove important.

Previous studies have suggested that, unlike conditions such as obesity, which is caused by a mix of genetic and environmental factors so called "nature and nurture" 90% of normal variation in human height is due to genetic factors rather than, for example, diet. However, other than very rare gene variants that affect height in only a small number of people, no common gene variants have until now been identified.

The research was led by Dr Tim Frayling from the Peninsula Medical School, Exeter, Professor Mark McCarthy from the University of Oxford and Dr Joel Hirschhorn from the Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT in Cambridge, US. Dr Frayling and Professor McCarthy were also part of a Wellcome Trust-funded study team that discovered the first common gene linked to obesity in April this year.

Using data from the Wellcome Trust Case Control Consortium, the largest study ever undertaken into the genetics underlying common diseases, and the Diabetes Genetics Initiative, in the US, the researchers conducted a genome-wide study of DNA samples from 5,000 people. The findings that variations in the gene HMGA2 make some people taller than others are published online today in the journal Nature Genetics.

Each of us carries two copies of each gene, one from our mother and one from our father. However, each copy can be a variant, or "allele" in the case of the HMGA2 gene, a "tall" version and a "short" version. The researchers found that as many as 25% of white Europeans carried two "tall" versions of this particular gene, making them approximately 1cm taller than the 25% of people who carry two "short" versions.

"Height is a typical 'polygenic trait' in other words, many genes contribute towards making us taller or shorter," explains Dr Frayling. "Clearly, our results do not explain why one person will be 6'5" and another only 4'10". This is just the first of many that will be found possibly as many as several hundred."

The exact role that HMGA2 has in growth is unclear, but the researchers believe it is most likely in increased cell production. This may have implications for the development of cancer as tumours occur due to unregulated cell growth. Previous studies have shown an association between height and certain cancers: taller people are statistically more likely to be at risk from cancers, including those found in the prostate, bladder and lung.

"There appears to be a definite correlation between height and some diseases," explains Dr Mike Weedon, lead author on the study. "For example, there are associations between shortness and slightly increased risks of conditions such as heart disease. Similarly, tall people are more at risk from certain cancers and possibly osteoporosis."

Dr Frayling believes that the study has major implications for helping scientists understand how common variations in DNA in the human the genome actually affect us, especially in relation to growth and development.

"Even though improved nutrition means that each generation is getting successively taller, variation in height within a population is almost entirely influenced by our genes," says Dr Frayling. "This fact, coupled with the ease of measuring height, means that height can act as a model trait, allowing us to explore in detail the influence that the genome actually has on our general make-up, not just disease risk."

In addition to being a textbook example of a complex trait, height is a common reason children are referred to specialists. Although short stature by itself typically does not signify cause for concern, delayed growth can sometimes reflect a more serious underlying medical condition.

By defining the genes that normally affect stature, we might someday be able to better reassure parents that their childs height is within the range predicted by their genes, rather than a consequence of disease, said Dr Hirschhorn from the Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT.


'/>"/>
Contact: Craig Brierley
c.brierley@wellcome.ac.uk
44-207-611-7329
Wellcome Trust
Source:Eurekalert

Related medicine news :

1. First Vaccine Designed for Africa Cleared for Testing in Humans
2. Infant receives first bloodless liver transplant
3. Oracle Corp. to help build worlds first "Digital Hospital"
4. Ajanta Launches Worlds First Once-A-Day Nimesulide Oral Formulation
5. First human clone is near
6. First Artificial Heart patient has Major setback
7. First global SARS meet opens
8. Launch Of India’s First Virology Course At Pun
9. FDA approves first pocket-sized EKG machine
10. First head-to-head trials of once weekly Fosamax and Actonel therapies
11. WHO Declares Vietnam First Country to Control SARS
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:9/7/2018)... ... September 07, 2018 , ... Modere, a healthy, safe and ... today announced that its Chief Executive Officer, Asma Ishaq, has been awarded the ... presented the award on Friday, September 7, at the Rice Business Alumni Awards ...
(Date:9/3/2018)... ... 2018 , ... Trees with fall colors are not a good sign in ... through September. When a tree is under stress, its leaves will change color early ... Giroud Tree and Lawn provides the top five Fall warning signs for ...
(Date:9/1/2018)... ... ... SignatureCare Emergency Center is looking to award their 2018 Fall Scholarship. The ... Get your applications in now as the deadline is approaching fast. (July 31) , ... medical student at Texas Southern University. Wu was inspired to go into the medical ...
(Date:8/31/2018)... ... 31, 2018 , ... MedMark Treatment Centers Kentwood, a BayMark ... from 1:00-3:00 pm. MedMark invites the community to explore the world ... meet our staff and learn more about medication-assisted treatment services. MedMark Kentwood can ...
(Date:8/31/2018)... ... , ... Nitro Circus hosted the inaugural A Night to Live Like Roner ... to celebrate the life of Erik Roner, world-renowned skier, skydiver and a founding member ... their two small children, Oskar (8) and Kasper (4). A portion of the funds ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:9/15/2018)... ... September 14, 2018 , ... EnviroLeather™ by LDI, a leader ... with SmithGroup, the Carto.graph collection is a graphic expression of mapping the San ... SmithGroup’s healthcare interior designer, Aileen Avila-Banaag to design the Carto.graph Collection. “I was ...
(Date:9/15/2018)... ... September 14, 2018 , ... ... benefit individuals and families affected by Hurricane Florence. , Throughout the month of ... donations in any amount, or round up their transaction to the nearest dollar ...
(Date:9/13/2018)... ... September 13, 2018 , ... NCPDP announced ... test and ensure correct implementation of the NCPDP SCRIPT Standard Version 2017071 ahead ... functionality and transactions identified by the industry as vital enhancements in improving patient ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: