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8 genetic mutations that confer superpowers
8 genetic mutations that confer superpowers

Scientists have been able to establish how genes affect some of our habits and characteristics. Perhaps you are a mutant superhero too.

8 genetic mutations that confer superpowers
8 genetic mutations that confer superpowers

More than 99% of our genetic information matches the genetic information of all other inhabitants of the planet. But what is stored in less than 1% is of particular interest. Specific gene variations endow some of us with unusual qualities.

1. Flash and the ACTN3 gene

Each of us has the ACTN3 gene, but some of its variations contribute to the production of the protein alpha-actinin-3. This protein affects the work of fast muscle fibers, which are responsible for the rate of contraction of muscles involved in running and strength training.

18% of people lack this protein at all because they have inherited two defective copies of the ACTN3 gene. Alas, speed running is not for them.

2. Agent Insomnia and the hDEC2 gene

Genetic mutations: hDEC2 gene
Genetic mutations: hDEC2 gene

Imagine how great it would be to sleep four hours a night and get enough sleep. But there are people to whom it is given. Only recently have scientists been able to figure out the reasons for the predisposition to short sleep. Researchers believe that this superpower is due to specific mutations in the hDEC2 gene.

This means that the ability to sleep little can be hereditary. Scientists hope to someday learn how to manage it and thus help people adjust their sleep patterns more effectively.

3. Supertaster and the TAS2R38 gene

About a quarter of the world's population tastes food more sharply than everyone else. The reason for this hypersensitivity, according to scientists, lies in genes, or rather in the TAS2R38 gene, on which the work of receptors that recognize bitterness depends.

4. Reinforced Concrete Man and the LRP5 Gene

Fragile bones can cause a lot of trouble to their owner. Researchers have discovered a mutation in the LRP5 gene that affects bone mineral composition and may cause bone fragility. It has been established that there are several types of LRP5 gene mutations that cause juvenile osteoporosis, as well as osteoporosis syndrome and pseudoglioma.

But another type of mutation in the same gene can have the exact opposite effect, endowing some people with bones so strong that they are nearly impossible to break.

5. Doctor Antimalaria and the HBB gene

In carriers of sickle cell anemia, one gene for hemoglobin is normal, and the other leads to the formation of sickle-shaped erythrocytes. Such people are highly resistant to malaria.

Although mutations in blood genes alone are not cause for joy, this information may help in the search for new effective treatments for malaria.

6. Cholesterol Warrior and the CETP gene

Cholesterol levels are influenced not only by the environment and nutrition, but also by genetics. Mutations in the gene responsible for the production of the cholesterol ester transfer protein (CETP) result in a deficiency of this protein.

As a result, the level of "good" cholesterol (HDL) rises, which reduces the risk of developing atherosclerosis and diseases of the cardiovascular system.

7. Captain Coffeeman and the BDNF and SLC6A4 genes

mutations in BDNF and SLC6A4 genes
mutations in BDNF and SLC6A4 genes

There are at least six genes responsible for how your body metabolizes caffeine. Some of them, notably the BDNF and SLC6A4 genes, affect the rewarding properties of caffeine that make you want more and more coffee.

Other genes determine how the body metabolizes caffeine. Those of us who break down caffeine faster tend to drink coffee more often because the effects of what we have already consumed wears off faster.

Finally, there are genes that determine whether you can fall asleep after your daily high dose of coffee.

8. Scarlet Witch and the ALDH2 gene

If your cheeks turn adorable after the very first glass of wine, blame the ALDH2 gene mutation for it. One variation of this mutation interferes with the ability of the liver enzyme ALDH2 to convert acetaldehyde, a byproduct of alcohol, into acetate. When acetaldehyde molecules enter the bloodstream, capillaries open, blush or heat appears.

Unfortunately, in addition to the cute blush, acetaldehyde has another, more unpleasant side: it is a carcinogen. According to some researchers, people who blush from a small dose of alcohol, and therefore, are most likely susceptible to mutations in the ALDH2 gene, are at risk of developing esophageal cancer.

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