Genes for blue eyes are not in the blood
Genes that determine the color of eyes are in the body, not in a person’s genes, according to a new study that found the genetics are in a human’s blood.
The findings, published Thursday in the journal Nature Genetics, may lead to new ways to treat blue eyes, said study co-author Charles Hsu, a professor of molecular and cellular biology at Harvard Medical School and Harvard Medical College.
Blue eyes are a common sight in people of Asian descent, with some researchers even speculating that Asian populations are genetically predisposed to blue eyes.
The study found the genes that determine whether a person has blue eyes were not located in a region of the genome known as CpG island 5 (CpG-5), which is associated with the production of blue pigment.
The researchers also found no significant differences between African Americans and Caucasians in the genetic makeup of the blood.
What is CpGs 5?
CpGG-5 is the region of CpA-binding protein 5 (a type of protein that can be turned on and off in cells) that is most closely associated with eye color.
CpAG-5, on the other hand, is associated only with skin color.
What does that mean for blue eyed people?
It means that there may be more genes associated with blue eyes than previously thought, said Hsu.
“Our results provide a new explanation for why people with blue-eyed people may have blue eyes,” Hsu said.
He added that this finding could help scientists understand how the CpGen genes affect the appearance of blue eyes in people who are also blue eyed.
Hsu is now working on a similar study of people with light skin.
If you or anyone you know has a genetic condition that causes blue eyes or blue hair, talk to your doctor about testing and possible treatments, Hsu suggested.
The genetic testing that can help determine your risk for developing blue eyes could also help identify the cause of other eye problems such as cataracts and macular degeneration, which can cause blindness and can also be associated with inherited genes.
HSU also recently found that blue-sensitive gene rs5a3, which encodes for the gene responsible for making a protein called blue-responsive protein, is present in at least one gene involved in pigment production in human skin.
“The question we’re asking is, ‘Is this just a marker for blue-skinned people?'”
Hsu told ABC News.
“We know that there are people who have blue skin, but it’s really the expression of the gene that makes them blue-eyes.
We’re not really sure why that is, so it’s an exciting area of study.”
Hsu and his colleagues also found that there was a gene called CpM9, which is related to pigmentation, which may be related to the blue-eye phenotype.
If people with genetic conditions that affect the production or distribution of pigments in the eye also have genetic variants in the gene encoding the pigments protein called CdM9.
“If there is something that’s going on in the pigment protein, and we know that the gene in question encodes it, then we know this is what’s going to happen to the eye pigment,” Hsi said.
Hsi is working on an international study to determine if the genetic variation associated with CpMG5 and CdMG9 are associated with any eye disease.