Born without fingerprints: ‘adermatoglyphia’ is caused by a gene!

September 20, 2011

Most of us have fingerprints, but some people are born with missing fingerprints. Only four families around the world are known to have been born with this disorder – a disease called ‘adermatoglyphia’. Recently dermatologists have found adermatoglyphia in a Swiss family – 9 out of 16 members have no fingerprints – is caused by a smaller version of a gene called SMARCAD1!

Almost every person is born with fingerprints, and everyone’s are unique. In an effort to find the cause of the disease, dermatologist Eli Sprecher sequenced the DNA of 16 members of one family with adermatoglyphia in Switzerland. Seven had normal fingerprints, and the other nine did not. After investigating a number of genes to find evidence of mutation, the researchers came up empty-handed—until a grad student finally found the culprit, a smaller version of a gene called SMARCAD1

The larger SMARCAD1 is expressed throughout the body, but the smaller form acts only on the skin. Sure enough, the nine family members with no fingerprints had mutations in that gene.

Being born without fingerprints doesn’t occur simply because one gene has been turned on or off, Sprecher said. Rather, the mutation causes copies of the SMARCAD1 gene to be unstable.


Full story about missing fingerprints in a Swiss family:

Missing fingerprints in a Swiss family caused by SMARCAD1 gene!

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