In 2007, dermatologist Peter Itin was contacted by a Swiss woman with an unusual quandry: She was having trouble entering the U.S. because she had no fingerprints. Regulations require all non-residents to be fingerprinted when they enter the country, and the authorities were baffled when the woman said that she simply hadn’t been born with any.
“[Adermatoglyphia is] an exceedingly rare condition,” says Sprecher, who’s one of just a handful of doctors worldwide to have dealt with the disease firsthand. “Generally, from the movies, we only hear of criminals who try to get their fingerprints removed.”
When they sequenced the DNA of 16 members of the woman’s family (nine with adermatoglyphia, and seven without), their hunch proved correct. Those in the former group all had a mutation in a region of DNA that codes for a protein called SMARCAD1.
Via Smithsonian.com for the full fascinating story.