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Genome-wide Association study of facial morphology identifies novel genetic loci in Han Chinese

By Yin Huang, Dan Li, Lu Qiao, Yu Liu, Qianqian Peng, Sijie Wu, Manfei Zhang, Yajun Yang, Jingze Tan, Shuhua Xu, Li Jin, Sijia Wang, Kun Tang, Stefan Grünewald

Posted 03 Jul 2019
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/691584

Human face is a heritable surface with many complex sensory organs. In recent years, many genetic loci associated with facial features have been reported in different populations, yet there is a lack for the Han Chinese population. We report a genome-wide association analysis of 3D normal human faces in 2659 Han Chinese with two groups of phenotypes, the partial and whole face phenotypes and the distance and angle phenotypes. We found significant signals in five genomic regions with traits related to nose or eyes, including rs970797 in 2q31.1 near HOXD1 and MTX2, rs16897517 in 8q22.2 at intron of VPS13B, rs9995821 in 4q31.3 near DCHS2 and SFRP2, rs12636297 in 3q23 near PISRT1, and rs12948076 in 17q24.3 near SOX9 and CASC17. We visualized changes in facial morphology by comparing the volume of local areas and observed that these nose-related loci were associated with different features of the nose, including nose prominence, nasion height, and nostril shape, suggesting that the nose underlies precise genetic regulation. These results provide a more comprehensive understanding of the relationship between genetic loci and human facial morphology.

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