I hereby claim credit for this when it shows up on various CSIs
April 30, 2016 12:03 PM   Subscribe

Fingerprints! Everybody's got 'em...except for folks with adermatoglyphia, aka "immigration delay disease", a rare, benign genetic mutation that disrupts the formation of fingerprint ridges by disrupting RNA transcription tied to the SMARCAD1 gene.
posted by cortex (10 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
A guy I went to high school with has this. His hands felt like they were always chapped.
posted by briank at 12:08 PM on April 30, 2016


It's not actually the RNA transcription that's disrupted, but the mutation impacts RNA splicing, a process that starts while the RNA is being transcribed. In splicing, non-coding regions of the RNA called introns are excised and the coding exons are stitched together to form the final transcript that is read to form a protein. There appears to be a specific exon that is only included in the SMARCAD1 transcript in skin, and the mutation causes splicing at that junction to be messed up.
posted by quaking fajita at 12:12 PM on April 30, 2016

This is DEFINITELY coming to a CSI/L&O near you.

(I don't have this condition; I just have extremely faint fingerprints. When I get printed for background checks, it's super fun for everyone involved. And by fun I mean awkward and tedious.)
posted by wintersweet at 12:27 PM on April 30, 2016

I've seen them all, and man they're all the same
posted by iotic at 12:30 PM on April 30, 2016

Saw it on a rerun of Death In Paradise just last night.
posted by SemiSalt at 1:12 PM on April 30, 2016

So? Did she ever get to come to the US?
posted by Splunge at 1:44 PM on April 30, 2016 [2 favorites]

With something like this I think it's always fun to speculate about possible functionality, but in case of a mutation so rare, if it's been around for a long time in certain lines of descent, it obviously hasn't spread through the population significantly and that argues against usefulness, and if it's new it's probably neutral or deleterious, so such speculation is very likely to be an exercise in futility.

However, there's this bit:
The finger pads of people with adermatoglyphia are entirely flat—they have none of the arching or looping ridges that characterize the fingerprints of virtually all humans. Otherwise, though, people with the condition are entirely healthy, minus a slightly reduced number of sweat glands. ...
which is made intriguing by recent articles suggesting that fingerprints increase ability to grip in wet conditions, together with the fact that high levels of fear seem to cause hands and feet to sweat a lot, because in that light, you might see lack of fingerprints as a way of maintaining slipperiness in the absence of quite enough sweat.

So wintersweet, would you say you've noticed that you sweat a lot less than most?
posted by jamjam at 2:19 PM on April 30, 2016

How do they unlock their smart phones?
posted by jenkinsEar at 2:24 PM on April 30, 2016

With numerical passcodes like an ANIMAL 😢
posted by Merzbau at 3:37 PM on April 30, 2016 [1 favorite]

jamjam: I think a normal amount? But come to think of it, I don't think I've ever experienced the proverbial "sweaty palms."
posted by wintersweet at 4:30 PM on April 30, 2016 [2 favorites]

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