Recent studies have identified the FOXO3a (Forkhead Box 3a) transcription gene as an important regulator of morphological scaling. It’s a key regulatory gene in a nutrient- and energy-sensing biological pathway (insulin/IGF-1 signalling pathway),that throughout our evolution was conserved from yeast to humans. FOXO3a anticipates food scarcity by slight alterations to its functionality with resultant phenotypic changes including increased insulin sensitivity, longer lifespan and most importantly, smaller body size. This highly conserved stress response increases an organism’s chance of survival because it needs less resources to sustain itself. A recent study by the University of Hawaii concluded that the G allele of the FOXO3a SNP rs2802292 (genotypes GG and GT) is associated with shorter stature as well as longevity. They are just ever so slight alterations in the genetic fabric yet have considerable impact. One of the authors of the paper,Dr. Willcox, stated that people with the “protective” version of the gene had double the odds of living to 100 — triple, if the person inherited that gene from both parents.
Interesting, yet the more important question is how much height reduction could be achieved if our desire for longevity makes us embrace FOXO3a SNP rs2802292.