Genetics explains Shar-pei wrinkles
The BBC reports that scientists have identified the genetic forces that play a role in giving the Shar-pei its distinctive wrinkled appearance. In particular, researchers have identified four single nucleotide polymorphisms located on the gene HAS2, which encodes an enzyme (hyaluronic acid synthase 2) known to be important for skin production (it makes hyaluronic acid, one of the principle components in skin). These SNP’s were found while comparing a specific stretch of DNA between wrinkled Shar-peis, smooth coated Shar-peis, and other breeds. In addition, the group identified 155 genomic regions containing candidate genes for such phenotypes as are usually distinctive in breeds: size, coat color and texture, behavior, skeletal morphology, and physiology.