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Am J Hum Genet. 2009 Oct;85(4):528-35. doi: 10.1016/j.ajhg.2009.09.006.

A common variation in EDAR is a genetic determinant of shovel-shaped incisors.

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Transdisciplinary Research Organization for Subtropics and Island Studies, University of the Ryukyus, Okinawa, 903-0215, Japan.


Shovel shape of upper incisors is a common characteristic in Asian and Native American populations but is rare or absent in African and European populations. Like other common dental traits, genetic polymorphisms involved in the tooth shoveling have not yet been clarified. In ectodysplasin A receptor (EDAR), where dysfunctional mutations cause hypohidrotic ectodermal dysplasia, there is a nonsynonymous-derived variant, 1540C (rs3827760), that has a geographic distribution similar to that of the tooth shoveling. This allele has been recently reported to be associated with Asian-specific hair thickness. We aimed to clarify whether EDAR 1540C is also associated with dental morphology. For this purpose, we measured crown diameters and tooth-shoveling grades and analyzed the correlations between the dental traits and EDAR genotypes in two Japanese populations, inhabitants around Tokyo and in Sakishima Islands. The number of EDAR 1540C alleles in an individual was strongly correlated with the tooth-shoveling grade (p = 7.7 x 10(-10)). The effect of the allele was additive and explained 18.9% of the total variance in the shoveling grade, which corresponds to about one-fourth of the heritability of the trait reported previously. For data reduction of individual-level metric data, we applied a principal-component analysis, which yielded PC1-4, corresponding to four patterns of tooth size; this result implies that multiple factors are involved in dental morphology. The 1540C allele also significantly affected PC1 (p = 4.9 x 10(-3)), which denotes overall tooth size, and PC2 (p = 2.6 x 10(-3)), which denotes the ratio of mesiodistal diameter to buccolingual diameter.

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