The main ridges that contribute to fingerprints are usually formed in the womb. The ridges are formed when the skin arises in specific patterns, usually determined by a combination of genes. In order to understand this concept in detail, scientists studied the formation of hair follicles as well which are similar to fingerprints. They found the presence of signaling molecules in both cases which were WNT, EDAR and BMP. To study these molecules, scientists used mice and when they increased the amount of EDAR, they found that the ridges were a lot thicker. Increasing BMP had the opposite effect. Scientists then studied how these molecules would contribute to the actual shape of the fingerprints such as whorls or arches. It was also found that the formation of fingerprints is related to the formation of other parts of the skin. Most people who have mutations in the molecules, also have other skin abnormalities. The team of scientists also intends on studying other skin structures as well in order to gain a deeper understanding of the skin.
This is very interesting as fingerprinting is extremely common these days. From airports to smartphones, the use of fingerprints is very widespread. This study provides a lot of insight on how exactly fingerprints are formed and which specific molecules contribute to this. In the future, this can help researchers understand more about not only fingerprints but other skin related structures.