Genome-wide study of families with absolute pitch reveals linkage to 8q24.21 and locus heterogeneity

Am J Hum Genet. 2009 Jul;85(1):112-9. doi: 10.1016/j.ajhg.2009.06.010. Epub 2009 Jul 2.


Absolute pitch (AP) is the rare ability to instantaneously recognize and label tones with their musical note names without using a reference pitch for comparison. The etiology of AP is complex. Prior studies have implicated both genetic and environmental factors in its genesis, yet the molecular basis for AP remains unknown. To locate regions of the human genome that may harbor AP-predisposing genetic variants, we performed a genome-wide linkage study on 73 multiplex AP families by genotyping them with 6090 SNP markers. Nonparametric multipoint linkage analyses were conducted, and the strongest evidence for linkage was observed on chromosome 8q24.21 in the subset of 45 families with European ancestry (exponential LOD score = 3.464, empirical genome-wide p = 0.03). Other regions with suggestive LOD scores included chromosomes 7q22.3, 8q21.11, and 9p21.3. Of these four regions, only the 7q22.3 linkage peak was also evident when 19 families with East Asian ancestry were analyzed separately. Though only one of these regions has yet reached statistical significance individually, we detected a larger number of independent linkage peaks than expected by chance overall, indicating that AP is genetically heterogeneous.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Chromosomes, Human, Pair 7
  • Chromosomes, Human, Pair 8*
  • Chromosomes, Human, Pair 9
  • Genome, Human*
  • Genome-Wide Association Study*
  • Humans
  • Pitch Discrimination*
  • Racial Groups / genetics