Members of a Swiss family who lack fingerprints have a mutation in a gene called SMARCAD1, Eli Sprecher of Tel Aviv University in Israel and colleagues report. The mutation, which also reduces the density of sweat glands in the hands, leads to a problem with a version of the gene’s protein that is made only in the skin, the team writes in the August 12 American Journal of Human Genetics. The researchers don’t yet know whether the gene is involved in creating the pattern of fingerprints or just in building the skin ridges that make up the print. —Tina Hesman Saey
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