COMT Gene Linked To Male Homosexuality

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Binbin Wang, PhD

Center for Genetics, National Research Institute for Family Planning
Beijing China

Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Dr.Wang:Homosexuality has become an important issue all around the world, as well as in China. Beside of the human right problems it poses, the reality that more and more HIV cases are infected through homosexual activity,especially men who have sex with men
(MSM), should be concerned. People are wondering how homosexuality develops.

As a genetic researcher, I’d like to find the answers in the field of genetics.

This study is based on previous evidence that genes may have impact on homosexuality. Besides, animal models have provided clues that abnormality in some neurotransmitters, such
as dopamine, may alter the sex behavior of animals. Therefore, we choose COMT (the gene catechol-O-methyltransferase) as the
target, which is important for the synthesis of dopamine. We find that an amino acid
residue change in COMT could increase the risk of developing male homosexuality.

Our results provide some evidence that male homosexuality is connected with genes.

Medical Research: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?

Dr.Wang: Human homosexuality is determined by both genetic and environmental factors.
Some genuine biological bases are underlying this trait, while genetic polymorphisms are
playing vital roles.

Medical Research: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Dr.Wang:This time, we have used a candidate gene strategy in the genetic analysis of
male homosexuality. Homosexuality is a kind of complex behavior and a comprehensive
and systematic analysis of the genetic mechanism should be performed at the whole genome level.

Genome-wide association study (GWAS) is an ideal choice. Our research group is conducting a large scale GWAS project for MSM now. We have finished the first stage research, i.e. the genome-wide scan, and yielded something interesting.

The second stage work aiming to validate these results is ongoing.

By this study, we hope to identify genes that are associated with human homosexuality.

Citation:

J Sex Med. 2015 Sep 7. doi: 10.1111/jsm.12978.

Analysis of the Association between Catechol-O-Methyltransferase Val158Met and Male Sexual Orientation.

Yu W1, Tu D1,2, Hong F1, Wang J3,4, Liu X1, Cai Y1, Xu R1, Zhao G1, Wang F1, Pan H3, Wu S3, Feng T1, Wang B3,4,5.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26346727

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Binbin Wang, PhD (2015). COMT Gene Linked To Male Homosexuality