A Single DNA Tweak Leads to Blond Hair

Medical Xpress, June 1, 2014

A single-letter change in the genetic code is enough to generate blond hair in humans, in dramatic contrast to our dark-haired ancestors. A new analysis by Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) scientists has pinpointed that change, which is common in the genomes of Northern Europeans, and shown how it fine-tunes the regulation of an essential gene.

“This particular genetic variation in humans is associated with blond hair, but it isn’t associated with eye color or other pigmentation traits,” says David Kingsley, an HHMI investigator at Stanford University who led the study. “The specificity of the switch shows exactly how independent color changes can be encoded to produce specific traits in humans.” Kingsley and his colleagues published their findings in the June 1, 2014, issue of the journal Nature Genetics.

Kingsley says a handful of genes likely determine hair color in humans, however, the precise molecular basis of the trait remains poorly understood. {snip}

For more than a decade, Kingsley has studied the three-spined stickleback, a small fish whose marine ancestors began to colonize lakes and streams at the end of the last Ice Age. By studying how sticklebacks have adapted to habitats around the world, Kingsley is uncovering evidence of the molecular changes that drive evolution. In 2007, when his team investigated how different populations of the fish had acquired their skin colors, they discovered that changes in the same gene had driven changes in pigmentation in fish found in various lakes and streams throughout the world. They wondered if the same held true not just in the numerous bodies of water in which sticklebacks have evolved, but among other species.

{snip}

Catherine Guenther, an HHMI research specialist in Kingsley’s lab, began experiments to search for regulatory switches that might specifically control hair color. She snipped out segments of human DNA from the region implicated in previous blond genetic association studies, and linked each piece to a reporter gene that produces a telltale blue color when it is switched on. When she introduced these into mice, she found that one piece of DNA switched on gene activity only in developing hair follicles. “When we found the hair follicle switch, we could then ask what’s different between blonds and brunettes in northern Europe,” Kingsley said. Examining the DNA in that regulatory segment, they found a single letter of genetic code that differed between individuals with different hair colors.

Their next step was to test each version’s effect on the activity of the Kit ligand gene. Their preliminary experiments, conducted in cultured cells, indicated that placing the gene under the control of the “blond” switch reduced its activity by about 20 percent, as compared to the “brunette” version of the switch. The change seemed slight, but Kingsley and Guenther suspected they had identified the critical point in the DNA sequence.

The scientists next engineered mice with a Kit ligand gene placed under the control of the brunette or the blond hair enhancer. Using technology developed by Liqun Luo, who is also an HHMI investigator at Stanford, they were able to ensure that each gene was inserted in precisely the same way, so that a pair of mice differed only by the single letter in the hair follicle switch–one carrying the ancestral version, the other carrying the blond version.

“Sure enough, when you look at them, that one base pair is enough to lighten the hair color of the animals, even though it is only a 20 percent difference in gene expression,” Kingsley says. “This is a good example of how fine-tuned regulatory differences may be to produce different traits. The genetic mechanism that controls blond hair doesn’t alter the biology of any other part of the body. It’s a good example of a trait that’s skin deep–and only skin deep.”

{snip}

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  • IstvanIN

    It’s a good example of a trait that’s skin deep–and only skin deep. Are there any naturally blond Sub-Saharans?

    • jambi19

      Any trans-humanist can see what’s going to happen in the future: bye bye afro haircut/dreadlocks/corn rows.

      • Zaporizhian Sich

        And not a moment too soon. I’m amazed how many black women have their hair done so it’s more like other women’s.

        • Einsatzgrenadier

          The greasy weave that negresses are so fond of is supposed to give them a more “human” look.

      • me

        In the future? Take a look at these ‘honeys’….
        BTW, how does the ‘illustrious scientist’ Catherine Guenther explain away how a white-blonde Scandinavian child gradually goes brunette over the course of a decade? Hmmm…..needs further research.

      • David Ashton

        But what about “the skull and the brain within” (Tylor, the father of anthropology)?

    • Einsatzgrenadier

      Interestingly enough, there are naturally blond Australian aborigines and Melanesian tribesmen.

      • IstvanIN

        True, but that has a different genetic cause.

      • borogirl54

        I have seen that myself and the Aboriginals do not appear to be mixed race.

        • Sick of it

          Consider the case of the American black. There are coal black people in America who have Caucasian ancestry.

      • Ahnenerbe ᛟ

        Yes but what is the texture of their hair, is it silky smooth like Europeans?

  • Ted Cunterblast

    It’s a good example of a trait that’s skin deep–and only skin deep.

    But it’s not merely skin deep. It requires snipping the genetic code.

    • me

      Now, don’t go around confusing these liberal ‘scientists’ with facts! You’ll make them cry and ‘trigger’ their ‘hurt feelings’ with your ‘micro aggressions’.

  • Lewis33

    Who are they kidding? If TV has taught me anything, it’s that having blond hair makes you a ruthless corporate raider, murderer, or rapist! It’s the evvvvil gene!

    • Ted Cunterblast

      It also causes you to have an evil English public school accent.

      • Mary

        Yep. They love to portray evil White guys as having either an English or a Southern accent. And, naturally, many of these evil beings are blond.

  • MekongDelta69

    “It’s a good example of a trait that’s skin deep–and only skin deep.”

    Nice cop-out.

  • dd121

    Common sense tells you there are a whole complex of genes that make white people what they are. It’s not just the hair.

    • Bon, From the Land of Babble

      And there are some, like Tim Wise and Noel Ignatiev who are cheering on the demise of our unique DNA, the one that carries the traits that make us who and what we are.

      • ThomasER916

        Tim Wise, Noel Ignatiev, John Engelman… all part of the same parasitic, anti-White Cult.

        • Bon, From the Land of Babble

          For this, Tim Wise and Noel Ignatiev receive six figure salaries, lucrative book deals, standing ovations, political praise at the highest levels and a national news media forum to spread their anti-White screeds.

          I swear if it takes everything I have I will put an end to this GD anti-White narrative that portrays us as non-humans not worthy of life and sets us up as targets for non-White assaults, rapes, tortures and murders.

          It must stop.

          • ThomasER916

            It will stop then the Culture of Critique is wiped out.

          • kikz2

            i think Harvard got rid of him, i think he’s now at some lame assed art college in MA… the bolshevik communist bastard…. McCarthy wasn’t wrong. he didn’t go far enough.

          • David Ashton

            Advocating genocide is real hate speech.

      • DaveMed

        It is difficult to overstate how powerful those images are.

        Thank you.

    • rasher223

      Precisely.

      Race is more than skin color or hair color.

      Evidence of this is in the skeletal structure of the various races.

      They are releasing this “article” to stymie the effects of Nicholas Wades book. They don’t want his findings to “catch on.”

      • David Ashton

        As a European with black hair (and blue eyes) I am glad to be reminded of this Aunt Sally diversion. All my grandchildren are fair-haired. There were raven-haired Vikings according to H S Chamberlain, and blond Ashkenazim according to H F K Guenther.

        • Mary

          Yes, the White race is amazingly diverse. Two of my 1/2 Northern European and 1/2 Italian children are pale with blonde hair and blue eyes and one could easily pass for Sicilian. It’s always fascinating to see what hair and eye colors will emerge with White babies, something most people of other races will not get to experience.

          • David Ashton

            It has been argued that the “mixture” of very closely related white subgroups (e.g. “Alpine”, “Nordic”) has had a stimulating effect, whereas crossing between different subspecies (e.g. “white” & “black”) is too wide for comparable success.

  • The Daily Mail is running this story as offering proof that the “dumb blonde” stereotype is a myth, as proven by the Stanford researchers. Most of us know that blondes, being white persons, are actually quite intelligent, but the media loves the dumb blonde stereotype, while utterly rejecting the “dumb Negro” reality.

    What doesn’t add up for me is that the blonde switch is independent of the blue or green eyes genes or switches. There are some blondes with brown or gray eyes, but most I’ve seen have the light blue or green eyes. Science has more explaining to do.

    • LovelyNordicHeidi

      “What doesn’t add up for me is that the blonde switch is independent of the blue or green eyes genes or switches. There are some blondes with brown or gray eyes, but most I’ve seen have the light blue or green eyes. Science has more explaining to do.”

      There is MUCH more explaining to do. How come blondes tend to have a similarly light skin? How come Blondes tend to have similar facial structures? How come blondes mostly have lighter colour eyes? How come blondes are overrepresented in German gymnasien? How come blondes behave in a certain way that is characteristic of them? And many more questions.

      • Martel

        The daily mail ran an article discussing high intelligence amongst blue eyed blondes, last year I believe.

      • ThomasER916

        Blond means “light” and “fair”. That means it used to describe skin color as well. This was important when you consider that it was other people describing them.

      • David Ashton

        There certainly seems a connection between the fine texture of the natural blonde and “delicate” skin. Providing the facial structure is also agreeable, the effect is dazzlingly beautiful, although Nordic women sometimes have a “firm” chin and thin lips which are not particularly “sexy”.

      • David Ashton

        How many dumb ones got the blonde from a bottle?

    • ThomasER916

      When you say “media” you really mean Jew.

      Just like when you say “urban” you really mean non-White.

  • DaveMed

    It’s a good example of a trait that’s skin deep–and only skin deep.
    _______________________________________________________

    Examples of which are few and far between.

  • JohnEngelman

    When did the mutations for blond hair happen? Does having blond hair enhance one’s chances to survive in northern Europe? These questions will be answered in the near future.

    • willbest

      It doesn’t need to enhance chances of survival, it only needs to enhance reproductive fitness. If fair skin, blue eyes, and blonde hair enhance the tingles of the opposite sex those genes will be passed on.

      • JohnEngelman

        What you say is true. However people are attracted to physical characteristics that indicate more important characteristics. Men are attracted to women whose bodies indicate that they can give birth to healthy bodies.

        Women are attracted to men whose bodies indicate proficiency in Paleolithic hunting and war. They are also attracted to men whose general appearance indicates high social status.

        It is not clear to me how light skin, blond hair, and blue eyes indicate these qualities.

        • ThomasER916

          There are plenty of things that are not clear to you.

          The peacock is not a Paleolithic hunter either but it gets noticed. Sad that I have to point out the obvious.

          • JohnEngelman

            The peacock is an exception to the rule. I have never understood why male peacocks who are good at fighting do not chase of the pretty male peacocks and mate with the females.

        • DaveMed

          If blonde hair and light eyes are seen as beautiful, then I guess one can apply your approach to argue that, by mating with partners who have those characteristics, one ensures that one’s own offspring from the match will enjoy their own reproductive successes due to high desirability.

          • JohnEngelman

            I have thought about that too. However, I have not been able to figure out how it got started. When the first blue eyes appeared, why were they considered desirable, rather than freakish?

          • DaveMed

            Richer colors are just more interesting, I guess. Retinal cones respond differently to different wavelengths of light, and this has a clear impact on psychological response.

            Present an infant (or any person, for that matter) with both a sapphire stone and a dull gray pebble, and most will fixate on the sapphire.

    • Ahnenerbe ᛟ

      It is not exclusive to northern Europe, Spartan women were known for their blonde hair and Ancient Romans had blonde hair (Caesar Augustus for one)

    • expitch

      Not all mutations serve the evolutionary process understood as natural selection.
      Some are beneficial. ( See humans. ) Some are harmful. ( Birth defects. ) Some are apparently neutral, their function still unknown. ( The appendix. ) In short, even as Darwin himself understood, while the core principles of natural selection explain much, they do not explain everything. Nature can be playful. And wicked.
      If blond hair was intended to enhance one’s survival in northern Europe, those Swedes with dark hair ( the majority ) would have been jettisoned long ago. Blond hair apparently was not intended to DO anything, one way or the other. It simply happened.
      Your interpretation of evolution seems reductively utilitarian.

      • JohnEngelman

        Every human has on the average 100 mutations. Most of these have no effect. More are harmful than beneficial. Beneficial mutations tend to spread, especially if they are very beneficial.

        • expitch

          And your point is?
          We already have the answer to your question about whether blond hair contributes to survival in northern Europe. The answer is clearly no. Natural blond hair can be found in many places not in northern Europe. That it may occur more per capita there than elsewhere is not instructive.
          It appears on its face to be a neutral mutation.

  • HJ11

    One important thing to take from this is that seemingly very minor changes to DNA can lead to major effects in the whole organism. So, when blenders tell you that there is very little difference between human races, don’t buy it. The other thing to know, which the above study tries to minimize (to be PC?) is that this little change to Blond is only “skin deep.” Actually, in time, I suspect they’re going to find that this little change also changed many other things, as do most minor changes in genes.

    • JDInSanD

      I read a book about 15 years ago which I believe was called Racial Differences. The author compiled lots of stats regarding body size, brain size, skin and eye color, height, weight, bone structure, inventiveness, political stability, etc.

      One takeaway was that he implied that light colored eyes in humans (and animals such as wolves) allow more light to enter the brain which affects reaction time. His belief is that a delayed reaction time makes blue eyed people less compulsive and more able to think out a solution in a dangerous or stressful situation.

      He data also pointed out that genital size is directly proportional to height and that the tallest people in the world are Northern Europeans.

  • Bon, From the Land of Babble

    Blonds, redheads and those who have blue eyes will be endangered species, if they aren’t already.

    Meanwhile, in the United States:

    There are 7.7 million more minority young people now than in 2000, but 5.7 million fewer white children.

    Only Whites have blue, green, hazel, and light brown eyes and blonde, red, light brown, dark brown, auburn and black hair.

    “Diversity” = White Genocide

    • Irishgirl

      I have very red hair. When I was growing up in California some 30 years ago, it was not that unusual (there was a large Irish community in San Francisco). Now I swear sometimes people stop and stare, and ask if it’s my natural color.

      • Bon, From the Land of Babble

        My daughter, son and I all have natural blond hair, a rarity in Los Angeles, indeed in Southern California. The stereotypical California blond is long gone, replaced by a squat, overweight, waddling 4’10” oaxacan-speaking mestizo welfare parasite with six kids that she can neither feed, clothe or educated. Our beautiful beaches have become unspeakable sewers that regularly garner ratings of “F” or even “F-” from the water board.

        We are looked at as if we are zoo animals even though Whites created and founded this area from nothing.

        And it is getting worse.

        We are rarae aves in terris nigroque simillima cycno.

      • ElComadreja

        I have reddish auburn hair on my head and lighter red hair elsewhere on my body. I’m of mixed Greek/German ancestry and people of this coloration were/are not uncommon on both sides of the family.

      • dd121

        As a red-headed person you are one of the few remaining groups that liberals permit to be openly mocked, denigrated and bullied. When you were a girl were you ever called a “ginger”. I don’t remember that slur from my childhood. It’s just an open admission how much the lefties hate whites.
        When in Ireland I always thought the most beautiful women had bright red hair and freckles on their nose. 🙂

  • David Ashton

    Put away that bleach bottle, girls, and try “eugenics”.

  • kikz2

    in the late ’60s, i attended public school for the first and second grade. coastal MS is needless to say…..nose deep in Blacks, and in later years, race problems, and school riots made me quite happy to be in private school.

    for some of those (literal) porch monkeys, this was their first exposure to White children. those first weeks of school they would come up and touch my long golden blond hair.. they were gentle, but needless to say it creeped me out…. after being threatened/extorted for my lunch money, my parents sent me to our only local non-parochial private school, as soon as it opened. card carrying KKK rednecks were another set of problems in entirety, but at least we shared commonality of the same race and roughly the same language.

    • Mary

      Some of this sounds similar to my experiences in elementary school, until my parents relocated us to a much nicer community that was nearly all White. I remember that the Black girls would love to play with the White girls’ hair, especially those that were blonde or had long hair.

      • kikz2

        also knew of a blonde friend who did go to the public h.s.

        once while in a bathroom stall, she heard a commotion and looked up to see 5 or 6 black girls peering over both sides of the top of her stall… she asked what they were doing.. they said.. ‘they wanted to see if she was blonde… down there’……. invasive yes, but at least she wasn’t injured. i don’t think she ever went to the restroom at school again..alone.

        • Mary

          Yikes, now that’s creepy!

  • none of your business

    Scrolling past engleman
    Scrolling past engleman
    Scrolling past engleman
    Scrolling past engleman
    Scrolling past engleman
    Scrolling past engleman

  • none of your business

    Bon, you are so right about the modern California girl being not the slimmish pretty blonde but a 4ft 10 225 pd brown bowling ball. Their faces are pretty horrible as well, nose shaped like a sweet potato, shapeless blobs of lips, fat melon faces with cheeks the size of a grapefruit. I have a friend about my age, came her from NYC when she was about 35. Every once in a while we’ll see a slim blonde and my friend will say, that’s a real California girl. I always say no, and point out the nearest brown bowling ball as the typical California girl of the 21st century.
    But that’s S. California
    There are still a lot of blondes, redheads and blue eyed Whites in N California starting in San Mateo county to Oregon. Whenever I come up here from Los Angeles I am totally shocked to see fair skinned blue eyed White people. Fair skinned Whites tend to hug the ocean coast, I guess it is as far as they can go. Your daughter is at Berkeley isn’t she? It’s a black haired asian sea.

  • none of your business

    dd121
    You’re English aren’t you? The ginger slur is a British thing only. I have no idea why the British hate the ginger haired. Americans don’t care about red hair much on men but admire it on women.

  • wildfirexx

    Well surely this proves as one small example, that Europeans likely were the last step in human evolution! Why would they want to turn back the clock ?

  • David Ashton

    Rarity is attractive. Nordic features on a female are linked to a thin nose and similarities to daylight rather than darkness. However, I am always surprised by the tiny breasts and huge thighs of supposedly desirable unclothed women in many European paintings.