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Small Genetic Change Responsible For Blond Hair 125

Posted by samzenpus
from the towheaded-child dept.
sciencehabit (1205606) writes "For all those brunettes wishing they were naturally blond, a small genetic change could have made all the difference. Scientists have found that replacing one of DNA's four letters at a key spot in the genome shifts a particular gene's activity and leads to fairer hair. Not only does the work provide a molecular basis for flaxen locks, but it also demonstrates how changes in segments of DNA that control genes, not just changes in genes themselves, are important to what an organism looks like."
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Small Genetic Change Responsible For Blond Hair

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  • by captain_nifty (132748) on Monday June 02, 2014 @01:22PM (#47147727)

    Although their powers are not very impressive.

    • Although their powers are not very impressive.

      You mean our powers to change color after exposure to the sun for long periods? Ok well we aren't chameleons but you have to start somewhere.

      • by PRMan (959735)
        What about their ability to star in movies and get everyone to help them everywhere my pretending to be dumb and helpless? (Source: my wife is blonde.)
        • In all fairness, the help your wife receives may be due to being female moreso than being blonde. How attractive she is may also be a significant factor, although being blonde may make her appear more attractive to many.
      • by gstoddart (321705)

        You mean our powers to change color after exposure to the sun for long periods?

        *phbtbtbtbt* I have the ability to change color after very brief exposure to the sun. ;-)

    • Recently, there was an article that described blue eyes as the result of a genetic mutation. So I'm the world's most boring mutant: Blue Eyed Guy. I have the powers of having blue eyes. All the time. I thought being a mutant would be more exciting than this.

    • by sootman (158191)

      I beg to differ. [blogspot.com]

    • Now for the hard part, making straight hair curly, and making curly hair straight
  • by ArhcAngel (247594) on Monday June 02, 2014 @01:36PM (#47147807)

    Scientists have found that replacing one of DNA's four letters

    DNA is only three letters.

  • It's a gene (Score:5, Informative)

    by yesterdaystomorrow (1766850) on Monday June 02, 2014 @01:49PM (#47147899)
    Originally, "gene" meant "heritable element". Outside of molecular biology, it still does. That DNA can encode the construction of protein was the first connection molecular biologists discovered from genotype to phenotype. This caused them to mistakenly redefine "gene", because they supposed it was the only connection. Since they have now found other kinds of heritable elements in DNA, it is time for them to revert to the older definition, and come up with some other term for the subset of genes that encode protein.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      ORF (Open Reading Frame) is typically used for the case you described, and has been for some time now.
      • ORF (Open Reading Frame) is typically used for the case you described, and has been for some time now.

        I don't think that's what I'm getting at. To switch to a different set of metaphors, "ORF" is a syntactic term while "gene" is a semantic term. Only a subset of ORFs are transcribed, as I understand it. A sequence of letters and spaces ending with a period is not necessarily a meaningful sentence.

        In any case, the original article claimed that blondness was not controlled by a "gene". But by the old definition of "gene" that's nonsense. Someone working in, say, evolutionary dynamics would certainly call the

        • The ENCODE project has shown that effectively every piece of DNA is transcribed at some level. All ORFs are transcribed, but we don't always know a function/meaning associated with them. We keep finding transcribed sequences to be important which we had previously attributed to noise. There are even proteins with well-recognized functions that appear to have been derived from random noise-sequences.

          There isn't a need to switch to metaphor with such a simple concept as this and doing so only confuses your m
          • Someone in molecular and computational biology (like me) would also call the controlling element a gene. Science journalism is far too often full of such odd definitions and misunderstandings.

            The "gene encodes a protein" idea still seems quite common in educational efforts that at least *ought* to have real scientists behind them. See, for example, page 4 of http://www.genome.gov/Pages/Ed... [genome.gov]. One who monitors the science news also will frequently encounter press releases like "We sequenced organism X's genome and it contains (pick a number) genes, compared to the (human gene count du jour)." Presumably molecular biologists provided these numbers, but they appear to refer to protein coding sequen

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 02, 2014 @02:05PM (#47147995)

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?... [youtube.com]

    A blonde woman was speeding down the road in her little red sports car and was pulled over by a woman police officer who was also a blonde.

    The blonde cop asked to see the blondes' driver's license. She dug through her purse and was getting progressively more agitated.

    "What does it look like?" she finally asked.

    The policewoman replied, "It's square and it has your picture on it."

    The driver finally found a square mirror in her purse, looked at it and handed it to the policewoman. "Here it is," she said.

    The blonde officer looked at the mirror, then handed it back saying, "OK, you can go. I didn't realize you were a cop."

  • And did they figure out which gene makes Blondes so incredibly stupid?

    Queue Julie Brown Song:
    I took an IQ test and I failed it of course;
    I can't spell VW but I drive a Porsche!
    'Cause I'm a blonde, B-L-A-N-D,
    'Cause I'm a blonde, don't you wish you were me!

    • The stupid blond is probably based on the following.
      Being Blond is a rare trait. Such a trait we find interesting and somewhat attractive as it encourages genetic adversity.
      Being that the blond shows genetic diversity, there are more people willing to mate with them,
      Being that they are more people are willing to mate, there is less of a need to differentiate themselves as superior or better, so they follow the simplest route.

      A large portion of our actions is about being attractive to the other sex. Even if

      • by evilviper (135110)

        If you in particular can attract and mate easier chances are you will follow a simpler route on average and not try harder.

        This doesn't follow. Even if your choices are good, you're still driven to excel and expand your pool of mates to the max. We aren't just wired to find any old mate... We are wired to try to get the MOST and BEST mates.

        Neither men nor women are naturally (completely) monogamous, so finding ONE mate isn't sufficient. But more than that, everyone wants to find THE BEST mate possible.

  • Now, where the heck do the blonde jokes come from? I've never seen any association between stupidity or airheadedness with blonde people.

    • Now, where the heck do the blonde jokes come from? I've never seen any association between stupidity or airheadedness with blonde people.

      It was around 1988 or late 80's when Blond joke started in my area and group (BBS'ers), there are some great jokes that vein.

      Trying to answer your question I came across this gem:

      "The researchers found that the blond-haired applicant was rated as significantly less capable than her brunette doppelganger. In addition, participants designated the female applicant’s starting salary as significantly lower when she was depicted as a blonde than when she was shown with brown hair." (sic) http://en.wikipedia [wikipedia.org]

    • Now, where the heck do the blonde jokes come from?

      Probably from the genetic metabolic disorder Phenylketonuria (PKU) [wikipedia.org]. This enzyme failure, if untreated by a phenylaline-restricted diet, leads to a constelation of symptoms that include mental deficiency, blonde or light hair, and blue eyes.

      Interestingly, one of Hitler's pre-war programs was an attempt to breed more blonde-haired, blue-eyed, Germans. The main result was a drastic increase in the prevalence of PKU in the German population.

      On the other hand,

  • Rs12821256 [snpedia.com], genotype (C;C) has "2x higher likelihood of blond hair" according to SNPedia (based on earlier work), but this new article claims [blogspot.jp] the G allele is associated with blonde hair. Not sure what that means...

  • Where Blue eyes and Blond hair originated.

    The subject itself is a troll gimme, as is the best answer in the link https://answers.yahoo.com/ques... [yahoo.com]

    Having Blond hair and Blue eyes I traced their evolution long ago, Scandinavia was the origin; for a fast post the link was the first hit.

  • This story is a bit too much inside-ball to be interesting, but still, I'm surprised they didn't say anything about the link between blonde and red hair... Though not exclusive, it seems rare to find someone with blonde hair, without a red-haired ancestor. Even as much of a recessive trait as blonde hair may be, red hair is even more extreme, and the two seem very closely linked.

  • Anyone who watches movies knows about the blond bad-guy [vdare.com] and the blonde goddess [dailymakeover.com]. This blond gene apparently has pleiotropic [wikipedia.org] effects that make men disgusting scum-of-the-earth and women the object of every man's desire.

    Strange how that works.

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