Cute Features Caused by Gene Mutations

Best friends
Different colored eyes are caused by a gene mutation. knape / Getty Images

Our genes determine our physical characteristics such as height, weight, and skin color. These genes sometimes experience mutations that alter the physical traits observed. Gene mutations are changes that occur in the segments of DNA that compose a gene. These changes can be inherited from our parents through sexual reproduction or acquired throughout our lifetime. While some mutations can lead to diseases or death, others may have no negative impact on or may even benefit an individual. Still other mutations can produce traits that are just downright cute. Discover four cute features caused by gene mutations.

01
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Dimples

Baby girl with dimples
Dimples are the result of a gene mutation. Helen Schryver Photography/Moment Open/Getty Images

Dimples are a genetic trait that causes the skin and muscles to form indentations in the cheeks. Dimples can occur in either one or both cheeks. Dimples are typically an inherited trait passed down from parents to their children. The mutated genes that cause dimples are found within the sex cells of each parent and are inherited by the offspring when these cells unite at fertilization.

If both parents have dimples, it is likely that their children will have them too. If neither parent has dimples, then their children are not likely to have dimples. It is possible for parents with dimples to have children without dimples and parents without dimples to have children with dimples.

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Multicolored Eyes

Different Eye Color
In heterochromia, the irises are different colors. This woman has one brown eye and one blue eye. Mark Seelen/Photolibrary/Getty Images

Some individuals have eyes with irises that are different colors. This is known as heterochromia and it can be complete, sectoral, or central. In complete heterochromia, one eye is a different color than the other eye. In sectoral heterochromia, part of one iris is a different color than the rest of the iris. In central heterochromia, the iris contains an inner ring around the pupil that is a different color than the rest of the iris.

Eye color is a polygenic trait that is thought to be influenced by up to 16 different genes. Eye color is determined by the amount of the brown color pigment melanin that a person has in the front part of the iris. Heterochromia results from a gene mutation that influences eye color and is inherited through sexual reproduction. Individuals that inherit this trait from birth typically have normal, healthy eyes. Heterochromia may also develop later in life. Acquired heterochromia typically develops as a result of disease or following eye surgery.

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Freckles

Girl With Freckles
Freckles result from a mutation of cells in the skin known as melanocytes. Shestock/Blend Images/Getty Images

Freckles are the result of a mutation in skin cells known as melanocytes. Melanocytes are located in the epidermis layer of the skin and produce a pigment known as melanin. Melanin helps to protect the skin from harmful ultraviolet solar radiation by giving it a brown hue. A mutation in melanocytes can cause them to accumulate and produce an increased amount of melanin. This results in the formation of brown or reddish spots on the skin due to an uneven distribution of melanin.

Freckles develop as a result of two main factors: genetic inheritance and ultraviolet radiation exposure. Individuals with fair skin and blond or red hair tend to have freckles most commonly. Freckles tend to appear most often on the face (cheeks and nose), arms, and shoulders.

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Cleft Chin

Cleft Chin
A cleft chin or dimple chin is the result of a gene mutation. Alix Minde/PhotoAlto Agency RF Collections/Getty Images

A cleft chin or dimple chin is the result of a gene mutation that causes the bones or muscles in the lower jaw not to fuse together completely during embryonic development. This results in the development of an indentation in the chin. A cleft chin is an inherited trait passed down from parents to their children. It is a dominant trait that is commonly inherited in individuals whose parents have cleft chins. Although a dominant trait, individuals inheriting the cleft chin gene may not always express the cleft chin phenotype. Environmental factors in the womb or the presence of modifier genes (genes that influence other genes) can cause an individual with the cleft chin genotype not to exhibit the physical trait.