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In International journal of legal medicine

Increasing understanding of human genome variability allows for better use of the predictive potential of DNA. An obvious direct application is the prediction of the physical phenotypes. Significant success has been achieved, especially in predicting pigmentation characteristics, but the inference of some phenotypes is still challenging. In search of further improvements in predicting human eye colour, we conducted whole-exome (enriched in regulome) sequencing of 150 Polish samples to discover new markers. For this, we adopted quantitative characterization of eye colour phenotypes using high-resolution photographic images of the iris in combination with DIAT software analysis. An independent set of 849 samples was used for subsequent predictive modelling. Newly identified candidates and 114 additional literature-based selected SNPs, previously associated with pigmentation, and advanced machine learning algorithms were used. Whole-exome sequencing analysis found 27 previously unreported candidate SNP markers for eye colour. The highest overall prediction accuracies were achieved with LASSO-regularized and BIC-based selected regression models. A new candidate variant, rs2253104, located in the ARFIP2 gene and identified with the HyperLasso method, revealed predictive potential and was included in the best-performing regression models. Advanced machine learning approaches showed a significant increase in sensitivity of intermediate eye colour prediction (up to 39%) compared to 0% obtained for the original IrisPlex model. We identified a new potential predictor of eye colour and evaluated several widely used advanced machine learning algorithms in predictive analysis of this trait. Our results provide useful hints for developing future predictive models for eye colour in forensic and anthropological studies.

Kukla-Bartoszek Magdalena, Teisseyre Paweł, Pośpiech Ewelina, Karłowska-Pik Joanna, Zieliński Piotr, Woźniak Anna, Boroń Michał, Dąbrowski Michał, Zubańska Magdalena, Jarosz Agata, Płoski Rafał, Grzybowski Tomasz, Spólnicka Magdalena, Mielniczuk Jan, Branicki Wojciech


DNA phenotyping, Eye colour, Machine learning algorithms, Predictive modelling, Whole-exome sequencing