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Diversity in Nose Shape Defined By 5 Genes Only

The shape of your nose is dictated by 5 genes specifically, says a new study published in the journal Nature Communications.


Societies are so focused on physical appearance, and other traits that are generally apparent to others, that they tend to restrict the definition of beauty and “what is acceptable”, while the truth is the extensive variety of human characteristics, from skin colour to facial features to language, is but a great sign that should be leaving us humans in wonderful awe at our diversity. Humans naturally comes in all shapes and sizes, and this applies to the human nose.

Science has attempted to explain the existence of the nose, and its design, in terms of evolution: the need to breathe in a specific amount of volume of air of a specific temperature would have triggered the formation of nostrils of a particular size. They add that the great variety defining nose design lies in the tendency of humans to identify each other by sight, and therefore, by appearance. This ultimately leads to a widely broad range of nose shape and size.

Now, what defines this variety? The scientists of the new study have unexpectedly found that only 5 specific genes govern these differences in the traits pertaining to the nose, like the width of nostrils.

This conclusion was reached after the team analysed photographs of 6,275 people from Latin American as well as their genomes obtained from DNA samples. One of their objectives was to find any genetic similarity uniting people bearing similar features; they closely examined 14 different facial traits for this purpose.

Their results allowed for them to spot 5 genes that appeared to code for specific nasal characteristics: gene DCHS2, said to be involved in regulating the formation of cartilage, seemed to generate a substantial effect on “nose pointiness”; gene PAX1 was found to play a role in nostril width; gene RUNX2, otherwise known for its role in bone growth, was linked with nose bridge width.

Apart from showing how only 5 genes cater for such variety, this study is hoped to boost treatment of inherited facial deformations like Campomelic Dysplasia.


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