Korean-Specific Genes Verified
By Bae Ji-sook
Eleven genetic factors that affect Koreans' blood pressure, heart rate, waist-to-hip ratio, bone strength, height and other body dimensions have been verified by the Center for Disease Control and Management, a unit of the Ministry for Health, Welfare and Family Affairs.
Previous studies have been conducted into other ethnic groups or races, but this is the first time the exact genes that make Koreans distinct from other peoples have been confirmed.
According to the center's report, ATP2B1 is linked to systolic blood pressure by controlling the calcium level in cells, while FAM3C and SFRP4 were linked to bone strength. The former is related to cartilage cells and the latter worked for the structuring of the marrow and its absorbent properties.
HMGA1, ZBTB38, PLAG1 and EFEMP1 affected height; the former three were found to control the increase and decrease of the activity of genes in cells. The exact function of the EFEMP1 has yet to be verified.
Another, FTO, is linked to body mass index (BMI), often used to determine obesity, and has been confirmed as controlling energy metabolism, the report said.
LOC644502 and CD46/LOC148696 were found to be related to heart rate, but how they differ has yet to be confirmed, the center's research team added.
The functions of individual genes affected increases in heart rate, BMI, height and other physical factors by up to 3 percent, which is roughly the case with other ethnic groups, adding credibility to the result, the research center said.
``There's still much to learn about, such as heredity, metabolic and cardiovascular diseases. Differences between races in terms of such figures should also be thoroughly studied,'' a spokesman for the center said.
The report was published in the May edition of Nature Genetics.