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Large-Scale GWAS Reveals Insights into the Genetic Architecture of Same-Sex Sexual Behavior


Ganna, Andrea; Verweij, Karin J. H.; Nivard, Michel G.; Maier, Robert; Wedow, Robbee; Busch, Alexander S.; Abdellaoui, Abdel; Guo, Shengru; Sathirapongsasuti, J. Fah; & 23andMe Research Team,, et al. (2019). Large-Scale GWAS Reveals Insights into the Genetic Architecture of Same-Sex Sexual Behavior. Science, 365, 6456. PMCID: PMC7082777


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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Journal Article

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Journal Title



Ganna, Andrea
Verweij, Karin J. H.
Nivard, Michel G.
Maier, Robert
Wedow, Robbee
Busch, Alexander S.
Abdellaoui, Abdel
Guo, Shengru
Sathirapongsasuti, J. Fah
23andMe Research Team,
Lichtenstein, Paul
Lundstrom, Sebastian
Langstrom, Niklas
Auton, Adam
Harris, Kathleen Mullan
Beecham, Gary W.
Martin, Eden R.
Sanders, Alan R.
Perry, John R. B.
Neale, Benjamin M.
Zietsch, Brendan P.