New genetic variant may explain food choices among Japanese

19 Jun 2021
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A newly discovered single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) may help explain food preferences among Japanese people, a recent study has found.

Genome-wide association study (GWAS) data from 14,079 individuals were retrieved from the Japan Multi-Institutional Collaborative Cohort study. A semi-quantitative food frequency questionnaire was used to evaluate participant diet, and an overall Japanese food score was constructed including six major food groups: bean products, fresh fish and other seafood, vegetables, fungi, seaweed, and fruits.

GWAS identified a total of 7,915,996 genetic variants, of which one SNP, located in the 14q11.2 locus, was found to be significantly correlated with the Japanese food score (p<5×10–8).

Though the identified SNP did not directly hit any gene, it showed significant associations with some surrounding genes. Expressions of the BCL2L2 (p=9.3×10–10) and SLC22A17 (p=5.0×10–9) genes, in particular, were significantly and inversely correlated with the 14q11.2 SNP.

According to the researchers, both genes were related to olfaction and obesity. In addition, HOMEZ gene expression was also correlated with the identified SNP, but only marginally so (p=6.7×10–7).

“This is the first report to identify SNP for a Japanese food pattern preference,” the researchers said. “Further studies are needed to replicate our results in a different Japanese population and to investigate the biological mechanisms linking the 14q11.2 locus and a Japanese food pattern.”

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