How complex genetic variations determine height

Melbourne: The combined effect of numerous minute genetic variations in many of our genes determines our height, according to a new Australian study.

Researchers from the Queensland Institute of Medical Research (QIMR) analysed the genes and height of almost 4,000 Australians, to come up with the study`s findings.

"This finding helps us understand the underlying genetic architecture and can be applied to many other complex traits such as common diseases," quoted lead researcher Professor Peter Visscher from QIMR`s Queensland Statistical Genetics Laboratory, as saying.

He added: "We know from family studies there is high heritability of these complex traits however, we could not fully account for the variation by studying common genetic changes. We were beginning to think that very rare mutations must play an important role. The question we wanted to answer was where is the missing heritability - the so-called dark matter of the genome?"

"What we found was that many of the gene effects on height were so small that individually we were unable to detect them. However, when we studied the impact of all the common variants together we realised their cumulative effect was in fact very significant."

The study, conducted in collaboration with the University of Melbourne and Washington University, appears online in Nature Genetics.



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