SHANGHAI, Jan. 7 (Xinhua) -- An international team led by Chinese and British scientists found that the mechanism that shapes people's fingerprints is not "skin-deep" but correlates with limb growth.
The findings published on Friday in the journal Cell have lent genetic clues to how people acquire their unique fingerprints and may help find genetic diseases among newborns.
Researchers from the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), Fudan University, University of Edinburgh and institutions in the United States, India and Australia scanned the genomes of more than 23,000 individuals.
They identified 43 fingerprint-associated genetic loci or gene tags in human chromosomes, many of them unreported before.
Those genes are found to be linked with general limb development pathways, instead of skin pathways as previously thought, said Wang Sijia, a researcher with Shanghai Institute of Nutrition and Health under CAS and the paper's co-corresponding author.
The researchers reported a variant near gene EVI1, which is noticeably related to the patterns on a human's middle three fingers.
The new study provided a biological explanation to the phenomenon that people's index, middle and ring fingers have similar patterns.
Experiments on mice and human fetal tissue showed that what facilitates the EVI1 expression is limb-linked mesenchymal cells rather than skin-linked epithelial cells.
The researchers also found that fingerprint patterns are genetically correlated with hand proportions.
Some congenital diseases are known to be linked with particular finger patterns. Therefore, they are looking forward to translating their findings into clinical tools for early diagnosis for newborns. ■