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Not to confuse with your "DNA fingerprint" I've read surgery is readily used to not just remove but even to change people's prints through employing very small grafts between opposing hands.

About 5 years ago a Chinese group identified SMARCAD1 as a key player in the development of fingerprints. this was discovered by generating gene expression profiles of people with a very rare condition called adermatoglyphia. These people have no finger prints.

A gene gun, which uses micropartical bombardment is a technique that propels microscopic particles of heavy metals, coated with the gene of interest, "deep" into tissues.

If you were to alter the genetics of the epidermal stem cells, you could potentially permanently change the tissue that arises from those stem cells. Could this in principle work if over expression of SMARCAD1 resulted in remodeling of the prints or has other more important genes been shown since to be involved?

Do any model organisms have fingerprints, or a version thereof?

I know I'm fishing here, lots of questions. I thought it was an interesting topic and wanted to see what people here had to say.

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  • $\begingroup$ People cannot change their fingerprints. It is possible to temporarily remove enough of the pattern to make the fingerprint useless for identification, but nothing more. Note that today, the fingerprint isn't the only evidence. Palm prints, especially the hypothenar eminence, is just as valuable. Even leather gloves can leave scientifically acceptable evidence in the form of skin prints. $\endgroup$ – anongoodnurse Aug 10 '15 at 16:10
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    $\begingroup$ @anongoodnurse you take your opposing thumbs, and perform 100 or so micro skin grafts between each thumb. If the graft takes, your going to perminantly alter your print. As I said this technique is already well described. Here's one example. csee.wvu.edu/~ross/pubs/… $\endgroup$ – rhill45 Aug 10 '15 at 17:29
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    $\begingroup$ @anongoodnurse I'm not asking about the surgery, what I'm referring to here is inducing local genetic changes of the epithelium to eventually alter the print, we know there is a genetic component to finger print development. . Micropartical bombardment is a way of introducing foreign DNA into cells by propelling microscopic particles of heavy metals coated with the exogenous gene. During development differences in gene expression are what make tissues different. I think it's reasonable to assume that the cells under the ridges are genetically different from the found between the ridges. $\endgroup$ – rhill45 Aug 10 '15 at 17:38
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    $\begingroup$ A real gun would change your fingerprints much more efficiently. $\endgroup$ – canadianer Oct 21 '15 at 22:44
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Chimpanzees have fingerprints. Next all you have to do is find the homologue of SMARCAD1 and let the animal testing begin! But actually I doubt it will work. This website goes into some depth and links some additional sources that show fingerprints are developed in the womb and are fully set by 6 months of gestation.

It seems likely that SMARCAD1 may have to do with having fingerprints or not, but not likely that it has anything to do with their composition. It would be difficult for one gene to have enough variation to provide 6 billion variations in output. You could hypothesize that it's a combinatorial output from other genes as well, but the studies linked above focus more on environmental interaction as the cause of variation.

I would guess that the patterns are set and no amount of gene therapy is going to change your fingerprints. The simplest experiment would be to knockout the above gene in an adult for some period of time and see if the fingerprints fade.

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    $\begingroup$ More like 60 billion variations, since every fingerprint on every finger is different. Once you realize that fingerprints differ on the same person from finger to finger...it's pretty easy to see that the exact pattern on each finger can't be genetically determined. $\endgroup$ – swbarnes2 Oct 22 '15 at 19:14

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