Worldwide Twins
International Network of Twin Registries

Newsletter - Issue 7
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Twin Research momentum

It has been great to see the growing number of initiatives in our field. We are just a few weeks away from the International Congress of Twin Studies (ICTS) 2016, hosted by the QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute on 20 June in Brisbane, Australia. New calls for collaboration in epigenetics and GWAS are also reported in this issue, and we have great news of the recently established Avera Twin Register in South Dakota, USA. Enjoy the read!

New calls for collaboration
Send us an email if you want your proposal reported in our next issue.

Epigenetics Working Group

Shuai Li (University of Melbourne), John Hopper and Jeff Craig (Australian Twin Registry), and Richard Saffery (Murdoch Childrens Research Institute) would like to initiate an INTR Working Group for twin studies of epigenetics. The Working Group would aim to provide a platform for international collaborations on epigenetic research that utilise twin resources. An example of such collaboration is the project Shuai is leading on genetic and environmental determinants of variation in a measure of global DNA methylation using multiple twin and family studies conducted across the lifespan, which will be presented at the ICTS 2016 in Brisbane, Australia. If you have an interest or have twin data on epigenetics, please contact Shuai at

The Genetic Landscape of Twinning: First genes for dizygotic twinning reported from the Twinning GWAS Consortium (TGC)

Dorret Boomsma and colleagues established the TGC to characterize the genetic basis of DZ twinning in humans. Knowledge of these genes may identify key mechanisms controlling ovarian function and can provide a greater understanding of female fertility and infertility, the most common reproductive disorder. The first paper entitled “Identification of Common Genetic Variants Influencing Spontaneous Dizygotic Twinning and Female Fertility” was published in the American Journal of Human genetics. Mbarek and colleagues performed a genome-wide association study (GWAS) for DZ twinning utilizing data from 1,980 mothers of DZ twins (MODZT) and 12,953 control subjects from three twins registries: Netherlands Twin Register, QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute and Minnesota Center for Twin and Family Research. Two genes (FSHB and SMAD3) were associated with having dizygotic twins and also linked to many aspects of female fertlity. The results were validated in a large Icelandic cohort. This is the first meta-analysis for GWAS of mothers of DZ to reveal the genetic factors contributing to twinning.
We are looking for cohorts with genotyped data of mothers of DZ twins to join our consortium and contribute to the discovery of more genes associated with twinning. If you would like further information please contact Hamdi Mbarek or Dorret Boomsma

A new twin registry

A collaboration between the Avera Institute for Human Genetics and the Netherlands Twin Registry resulted in the creation of the first twin registry in South Dakota, USA. The Avera Twin Register aims to "hope to gain understanding of how genes influence human traits and diseases, which may allow for more accurate diagnosis, the development of better treatments and possibly the prevention of diseases". We warmly welcome this brand new initiative!
See you in our next issue!
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