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Study of tribe could help find East Asian skin color genes
Date:8/28/2012

uch as the Proto-Malay. Since the skin color of the Senoi is darker than that of Northeast Asians, researchers will be able to focus on finding the primary genetic mutation of light skin color in Asians without seeing further skin lightening mutations.

Khai C. Ang, Ph.D., postdoctoral fellow in the Cheng lab, visited the Senoi, developed a positive relationship with them, and was able to collect 371 blood samples. Characterization of the Senoi's skin color was recently reported in PLoS ONE.

"As the world is becoming globalized, populations are becoming increasingly mixed," Ang said. "Time is running out and it will become increasingly difficult to establish how East Asian skin colors evolved."

The researchers will now map genes in the DNA using the collected samples to identify which might be responsible for the skin color of East Asians. In the Cheng lab, the candidate genes and mutations can then be tested in zebrafish for verification.

"Skin color has been tied to human welfare in modern history," Cheng said. "It is important for us as a species to realize that our skin color is determined by only a small number of minute changes in our DNA -- changes that have nothing to do with the value of human beings."


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Contact: Matthew Solovey
msolovey@hmc.psu.edu
717-531-8606
Penn State
Source:Eurekalert

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