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Large-scale GWAS reveals insights into the genetic architecture of same-sex sexual behavior

Journal article
Authors A. Ganna
K. J. H. Verweij
M. G. Nivard
R. Maier
R. Wedow
A. S. Busch
A. Abdellaoui
S. Guo
J. F. Sathirapongsasuti
P. Lichtenstein
Sebastian Lundström
N. Langstrom
A. Auton
K. M. Harris
G. W. Beecham
E. R. Martin
A. R. Sanders
J. R. B. Perry
B. M. Neale
B. P. Zietsch
M. Agee
B. Alipanahi
A. Auton
R. K. Bell
K. Bryc
S. L. Elson
P. Fontanillas
N. A. Furlotte
B. Hicks
K. E. Huber
E. M. Jewett
Y. Jiang
A. Kleinman
K. H. Lin
N. K. Litterman
J. C. McCreight
M. H. McIntyre
K. F. McManus
J. L. Mountain
E. S. Noblin
C. A. M. Northover
S. J. Pitts
G. D. Poznik
A. J. Shastri
J. F. Shelton
S. Shringarpure
C. Tian
J. Y. Tung
V. Vacic
X. Wang
C. H. Wilson
Published in Science
Volume 365
Issue 6456
Pages 882-+
ISSN 0036-8075
Publication year 2019
Published at Gillberg Neuropsychiatry Centre
Centre for Ethics, Law, and Mental Health
Pages 882-+
Language en
Keywords genome-wide association, psychiatric-disorders, general-population, orientation, linkage, disease, loci, schizophrenia, trait, homosexuality, Science & Technology - Other Topics
Subject categories Medical Genetics


Twin and family studies have shown that same-sex sexual behavior is partly genetically influenced, but previous searches for specific genes involved have been underpowered. We performed a genome-wide association study (GWAS) on 477,522 individuals, revealing five loci significantly associated with same-sex sexual behavior. In aggregate, all tested genetic variants accounted for 8 to 25% of variation in same-sex sexual behavior, only partially overlapped between males and females, and do not allow meaningful prediction of an individual's sexual behavior. Comparing these GWAS results with those for the proportion of same-sex to total number of sexual partners among nonheterosexuals suggests that there is no single continuum from opposite-sex to same-sex sexual behavior. Overall, our findings provide insights into the genetics underlying same-sex sexual behavior and underscore the complexity of sexuality.

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