Skin color is one of the most visible traits that highlight the diversity between people. The pigmentation of our skin is largely determined by the presence of melanin, a naturally occurring pigment produced in the skin.
Melanin is produced by cells called melanocytes, found in the outermost layer of our skin, and stored in special compartments known as melanosomes. Melanosomes are then transferred into another type of cells (keratinocytes), in the top layer of our skin. People with darker-colored skin have keratinocytes with more melanin compared to people with light-colored skin.
Discover the genetic basis of your skin color and the likelihood of passing on a “light skin” variant to your child with this DNA test.
This test examines variants in the SLC45A2 and SLC24A5 genes associated with lighter skin color and European ancestry.
The SLC45A2 gene gives instructions to make a transporter protein involved in melanin synthesis. Those with the “light skin” variant produce less melanin, which results in lighter skin coloring. The SLC24A5 gene gives instructions to make another transporter protein found in melanocytes. Individuals with the “light skin” variant of this gene are also likely to have lighter skin coloring.
Melanin, UV and Vitamin D
Melanin protects our cells from being damaged by the UV rays from sun exposure. This is why there is a significant correlation between the skin color of populations from around the world and UV radiation or exposure to the sun.
- Populations near the equator have darker colored skin, which provides protection from UV rays.
Skin color also influences vitamin D levels, as melanin can inhibit the production of vitamin D in our skin.
- Populations in regions of lower sun exposure tend to have lighter skin to enable adequate vitamin D synthesis.
- Women also tend to have lighter skin because they require more calcium. The absorption of calcium is affected by vitamin D levels.
How It Works
Step 1: Sign up for a free DNA Access account.
Step 2: Upload your DNA markers to DNA Access.
Step 3: Log in to your account to access your results when they are ready.