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No single gene associated with being gay

No single gene associated with being gay

https://www.bbc.com/news/health-49484490
29 August 2019

A genetic analysis of almost half a million people has concluded there is no single "gay gene".

The study, published in Science, used data from the UK Biobank and 23andMe, and found some genetic variants associated with same-sex relationships.

But genetic factors accounted for, at most, 25% of same-sex behaviour.

Advocacy group GLAAD said the study confirmed "no conclusive degree to which nature or nurture influenced how a gay or lesbian person behaves."

The researchers scanned the genomes - the entire genetic make-up - of 409,000 people signed up to the UK Biobank project, and 68,500 registered with the genetics company 23andMe.

Participants were also asked whether they had same-sex partners exclusively, or as well as opposite-sex partners.

The Harvard and MIT researchers concluded genetics could account for between 8-25% of same-sex behaviour across the population, when the whole genome is considered.

Five specific genetic variants were found to be particularly associated with same-sex behaviour, including one linked to the biological pathway for smell, and others to those for sex hormones.

But together they only accounted for under 1% of same-sex behaviour.

'Impossible to predict'

Ben Neale, an associate professor in the Analytic and Translational Genetics Unit at Massachusetts General Hospital, who worked on the study, said: "Genetics is less than half of this story for sexual behaviour, but it's still a very important contributing factor.

"There is no single gay gene, and a genetic test for if you're going to have a same-sex relationship is not going to work.

"It's effectively impossible to predict an individual's sexual behaviour from their genome."

Fah Sathirapongsasuti, senior scientist at 23andMe, added; "This is a natural and normal part of the variation in our species and that should also support precisely the position that we shouldn't try and develop gay 'curism'. That's not in anyone's interest."

David Curtis, honorary professor at the UCL Genetics Institute, University College London, said: "This study clearly shows that there is no such thing as a 'gay gene'.

"There is no genetic variant in the population which has any substantial effect on sexual orientation.

"Rather, what we see is that there are very large numbers of variants which have extremely modest associations.

"Even if homosexuality is not genetically determined, as this study shows, that does not mean that it is not in some way an innate and indispensable part of an individual's personality."

Zeke Stokes, from the LGBT media advocacy organisation GLAAD, said: "This new research re-confirms the long-established understanding that there is no conclusive degree to which nature or nurture influence how a gay or lesbian person behaves."

*****

No single 'gay gene', study finds

CHRISTIAN TODAY
Aug. 30, 2019

A major new study analysing the genetic data of half a million people has concluded that there is no single gene that causes someone to be gay.

Looking at the data of individuals in the UK and US, the study found that there were some genetic variants among gay people but that genetic factors could only account for between 8 and 25 per cent of same-sex sexual behaviour within the general population at the most.

The study, published in Science Mag, sought to build on previous research which found that genetics appeared to account for similarities in the sexual orientation of twins in 18% of cases for women and 37% for men.

The researchers from Harvard and MIT looked at the data of 409,000 people stored in the UK Biobank and 68,500 from the US-based genetics company 23andMe.

The study participants were asked about how many sexual partners they had had and whether these were of the same or opposite sex.

The researchers were able to establish five genetic variants linked to same-sex behaviour, two that were found in both men and women, two found only in men, and another found only in women.

However, when considered altogether, they concluded that these variations explained less than 1% of the variation in same-sex behaviour among the study participants.

Ben Neale, an associate professor in the Analytic and Translational Genetics Unit at Massachusetts General Hospital, who contributed to the study, said that while genetics was important, it could not tell the whole story of same-sex sexual behaviour.

"Genetics is less than half of this story for sexual behaviour, but it's still a very important contributing factor," he said, according to the BBC.

"There is no single gay gene, and a genetic test for if you're going to have a same-sex relationship is not going to work.

"It's effectively impossible to predict an individual's sexual behaviour from their genome."

David Curtis, honorary professor at the UCL Genetics Institute, University College London, said the study was evidence of "very large numbers of variants which have extremely modest associations".

"This study clearly shows that there is no such thing as a 'gay gene'," he told the BBC.

"There is no genetic variant in the population which has any substantial effect on sexual orientation."

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