[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Recent genomic profiling of childhood acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) identified a high-risk subtype with an expression signature resembling that of Philadelphia chromosome-positive ALL and poor prognosis (Ph-like ALL). However, the role of inherited genetic variation in Ph-like ALL pathogenesis remains unknown. In a genome-wide association study (GWAS) of 511 ALL cases and 6,661 non-ALL controls, we identified a susceptibility locus for Ph-like ALL (GATA3, rs3824662; P = 2.17 × 10(-14), odds ratio (OR) = 3.85 for Ph-like ALL versus non-ALL; P = 1.05 × 10(-8), OR = 3.25 for Ph-like ALL versus non-Ph-like ALL), with independent validation. The rs3824662 risk allele was associated with somatic lesions underlying Ph-like ALL (CRLF2 rearrangement, JAK gene mutation and IKZF1 deletion) and with variation in GATA3 expression. Finally, genotype at the GATA3 SNP was also associated with early treatment response and risk of ALL relapse. Our results provide insights into interactions between inherited and somatic variants and their role in ALL pathogenesis and prognosis.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The primary rescue medication to treat acute asthma exacerbation is the short-acting β2-adrenergic receptor agonist; however, there is variation in how well a patient responds to treatment. Although these differences might be due to environmental factors, there is mounting evidence for a genetic contribution to variability in bronchodilator response (BDR).
To identify genetic variation associated with bronchodilator drug response in Latino children with asthma.
We performed a genome-wide association study (GWAS) for BDR in 1782 Latino children with asthma using standard linear regression, adjusting for genetic ancestry and ethnicity, and performed replication studies in an additional 531 Latinos. We also performed admixture mapping across the genome by testing for an association between local European, African, and Native American ancestry and BDR, adjusting for genomic ancestry and ethnicity.
We identified 7 genetic variants associated with BDR at a genome-wide significant threshold (P < 5 × 10(-8)), all of which had frequencies of less than 5%. Furthermore, we observed an excess of small P values driven by rare variants (frequency, <5%) and by variants in the proximity of solute carrier (SLC) genes. Admixture mapping identified 5 significant peaks; fine mapping within these peaks identified 2 rare variants in SLC22A15 as being associated with increased BDR in Mexicans. Quantitative PCR and immunohistochemistry identified SLC22A15 as being expressed in the lung and bronchial epithelial cells.
Our results suggest that rare variation contributes to individual differences in response to albuterol in Latinos, notably in SLC genes that include membrane transport proteins involved in the transport of endogenous metabolites and xenobiotics. Resequencing in larger, multiethnic population samples and additional functional studies are required to further understand the role of rare variation in BDR.
The Journal of allergy and clinical immunology 08/2013; · 9.17 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: MOTIVATION: Local ancestry analysis of genotype data from recently admixed populations (e.g. Latinos, African-Americans) provides key insights into population history and disease genetics. Although methods for local ancestry inference have been extensively validated in simulations (under many unrealistic assumptions), no empirical study of local ancestry accuracy in Latinos exists to date. Hence, interpreting findings that rely on local ancestry in Latinos is challenging. RESULTS: Here, we use 489 nuclear families from the mainland US, Puerto Rico and Mexico in conjunction with 3204 unrelated Latinos from the Multiethnic Cohort study to provide the first empirical characterization of local ancestry inference accuracy in Latinos. Our approach for identifying errors does not rely on simulations but on the observation that local ancestry in families follows Mendelian inheritance. We measure the rate of local ancestry assignments that lead to Mendelian inconsistencies in local ancestry in trios (MILANC), which provides a lower bound on errors in the local ancestry estimates. We show that MILANC rates observed in simulations underestimate the rate observed in real data and that MILANC varies substantially across the genome. Second, across a wide range of methods, we observe that loci with large deviations in local ancestry also show enrichment in MILANC rates. Therefore, local ancestry estimates at such loci should be interpreted with caution. Finally, we reconstruct ancestral haplotype panels to be used as reference panels in local ancestry inference and show that ancestry inference is significantly improved by incoroprating these reference panels.Availability and Implementation: We provide the reconstructed reference panels together with the maps of MILANC rates as a public resource for researchers analyzing local ancestry in Latinos at http://bogdanlab.pathology.ucla.edu.Contact and SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: firstname.lastname@example.org.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Asthma is a common chronic respiratory disease characterized by airway hyperresponsiveness (AHR). The genetics of asthma have been widely studied in mouse and human, and homologous genomic regions have been associated with mouse AHR and human asthma-related phenotypes. Our goal was to identify asthma-related genes by integrating AHR associations in mouse with human genome-wide association study (GWAS) data. We used Efficient Mixed Model Association (EMMA) analysis to conduct a GWAS of baseline AHR measures from males and females of 31 mouse strains. Genes near or containing SNPs with EMMA p-values <0.001 were selected for further study in human GWAS. The results of the previously reported EVE consortium asthma GWAS meta-analysis consisting of 12,958 diverse North American subjects from 9 study centers were used to select a subset of homologous genes with evidence of association with asthma in humans. Following validation attempts in three human asthma GWAS (i.e., Sepracor/LOCCS/LODO/Illumina, GABRIEL, DAG) and two human AHR GWAS (i.e., SHARP, DAG), the Kv channel interacting protein 4 () gene was identified as nominally associated with both asthma and AHR at a gene- and SNP-level. In EVE, the smallest association was at rs6833065 (P-value 2.9e-04), while the strongest associations for Sepracor/LOCCS/LODO/Illumina, GABRIEL, DAG were 1.5e-03, 1.0e-03, 3.1e-03 at rs7664617, rs4697177, rs4696975, respectively. At a SNP level, the strongest association across all asthma GWAS was at rs4697177 (P-value 1.1e-04). The smallest P-values for association with AHR were 2.3e-03 at rs11947661 in SHARP and 2.1e-03 at rs402802 in DAG. Functional studies are required to validate the potential involvement of in modulating asthma susceptibility and/or AHR. Our results suggest that a useful approach to identify genes associated with human asthma is to leverage mouse AHR association data.
PLoS ONE 01/2013; 8(2):e56179. · 3.73 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: BACKGROUND: IgE is both a marker and mediator of allergic inflammation. Despite reported differences in serum total IgE levels by race-ethnicity, African American and Latino subjects have not been well represented in genetic studies of total IgE. OBJECTIVE: We sought to identify the genetic predictors of serum total IgE levels. METHODS: We used genome-wide association data from 4292 subjects (2469 African Americans, 1564 European Americans, and 259 Latinos) in the EVE Asthma Genetics Consortium. Tests for association were performed within each cohort by race-ethnic group (ie, African American, Latino, and European American) and asthma status. The resulting P values were meta-analyzed, accounting for sample size and direction of effect. Top single nucleotide polymorphism associations from the meta-analysis were reassessed in 6 additional cohorts comprising 5767 subjects. RESULTS: We identified 10 unique regions in which the combined association statistic was associated with total serum IgE levels (P < 5.0 × 10(-6)) and the minor allele frequency was 5% or greater in 2 or more population groups. Variant rs9469220, corresponding to HLA-DQB1, was the single nucleotide polymorphism most significantly associated with serum total IgE levels when assessed in both the replication cohorts and the discovery and replication sets combined (P = .007 and 2.45 × 10(-7), respectively). In addition, findings from earlier genome-wide association studies were also validated in the current meta-analysis. CONCLUSION: This meta-analysis independently identified a variant near HLA-DQB1 as a predictor of total serum IgE levels in multiple race-ethnic groups. This study also extends and confirms the findings of earlier genome-wide association analyses in African American and Latino subjects.
The Journal of allergy and clinical immunology 11/2012; · 9.17 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: BACKGROUND: Genome-wide association studies of asthma have implicated many genetic risk factors, with well-replicated associations at approximately 10 loci that account for only a small proportion of the genetic risk. OBJECTIVES: We aimed to identify additional asthma risk loci by performing an extensive replication study of the results from the EVE Consortium meta-analysis. METHODS: We selected 3186 single nucleotide polymorphisms for replication based on the P values from the EVE Consortium meta-analysis. These single nucleotide polymorphisms were genotyped in ethnically diverse replication samples from 9 different studies, totaling 7202 cases, 6426 controls, and 507 case-parent trios. Association analyses were conducted within each participating study, and the resulting test statistics were combined in a meta-analysis. RESULTS: Two novel associations were replicated in European Americans: rs1061477 in the KLK3 gene on chromosome 19 (combined odds ratio = 1.18; 95% CI, 1.10-1.25) and rs9570077 (combined odds ratio =1.20; 95% CI, 1.12-1.29) on chromosome 13q21. We could not replicate any additional associations in the African Americans or Latinos. CONCLUSIONS: This extended replication study identified 2 additional asthma risk loci in populations of European descent. The absence of additional loci for African Americans and Latinos highlights the difficulty in replicating associations in admixed populations.
The Journal of allergy and clinical immunology 10/2012; · 9.17 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Genome-wide association studies (GWASs) of asthma have consistently implicated the ORM1-like 3 and gasdermin B (ORMDL3-GSDMB), IL33, IL-1 receptor-like 1 and IL-18 receptor 1 (IL1RL1-IL18R1), RAD50-IL13, thymic stromal lymphopoietin and WD repeat domain 36 region (TSLP-WDR36), and HLA-DR/DQ regions.
A GWAS of asthma was performed in a non-Hispanic white population.
A GWAS was performed in 813 Severe Asthma Research Program/Collaborative Studies on the Genetics of Asthma/Chicago Asthma Genetics Study cases and 1564 control subjects. The GWAS results were compared with those of the published GWASs of autoimmune diseases.
Multiple single nucleotide polymorphisms in the TNFAIP3 interacting protein 1 (TNIP1) gene, which interacts with TNFAIP3 and inhibits the TNF-α-induced nuclear factor κB inflammation pathway, were associated with asthma: rs1422673 (P = 3.44 × 10(-7)) and rs10036748 (P = 1.41 × 10(-6), r(2) = 0.67). rs1422673 was also associated with asthma in the published GABRIEL (P = .018) and EVE (P = 1.31 × 10(-5)) studies. The minor allele T of rs20541 in IL13 is the risk allele for asthma but the protective allele for psoriasis. The minor allele T of rs2395185 in HLA-DRA is the risk allele for asthma but the protective allele for ulcerative colitis. The minor allele A of rs2872507 in GSDMB is the protective allele for asthma but the risk allele for rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn disease, and ulcerative colitis. The T allele of rs10036748 in the TNIP1 gene is the minor protective allele for asthma but the minor or major risk allele for systemic lupus erythematosus and systemic sclerosis in non-Hispanic white or Chinese subjects, respectively.
Our study suggests that single nucleotide polymorphisms associated with both asthma and autoimmune diseases might have opposite effects on immunopathogenesis.
The Journal of allergy and clinical immunology 06/2012; 130(4):861-868.e7. · 9.17 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Genetic variants that contribute to asthma susceptibility might be present at varying frequencies in different populations, which is an important consideration and advantage for performing genetic association studies in admixed populations.
We sought to identify asthma-associated loci in African American subjects.
We compared local African and European ancestry estimated from dense single nucleotide polymorphism genotype data in African American adults with asthma and nonasthmatic control subjects. Allelic tests of association were performed within the candidate regions identified, correcting for local European admixture.
We identified a significant ancestry association peak on chromosome 6q. Allelic tests for association within this region identified a single nucleotide polymorphism (rs1361549) on 6q14.1 that was associated with asthma exclusively in African American subjects with local European admixture (odds ratio, 2.2). The risk allele is common in Europe (42% in the HapMap population of Utah residents with Northern and Western European ancestry from the Centre d'Etude du Polymorphisme Humain collection) but absent in West Africa (0% in the HapMap population of Yorubans in Ibadan, Nigeria), suggesting the allele is present in African American subjects because of recent European admixture. We replicated our findings in Puerto Rican subjects and similarly found that the signal of association is largely specific to subjects who are heterozygous for African and non-African ancestry at 6q14.1. However, we found no evidence for association in European American or Puerto Rican subjects in the absence of local African ancestry, suggesting that the association with asthma at rs1361549 is due to an environmental or genetic interaction.
We identified a novel asthma-associated locus that is relevant to admixed populations with African ancestry and highlight the importance of considering local ancestry in genetic association studies of admixed populations.
The Journal of allergy and clinical immunology 05/2012; 130(3):622-629.e9. · 9.17 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Polymorphisms in more than 100 genes have been associated with asthma susceptibility, yet much of the heritability remains to be explained. Asthma disproportionately affects different racial and ethnic groups in the United States, suggesting that admixture mapping is a useful strategy to identify novel asthma-associated loci.
We sought to identify novel asthma-associated loci in Latino populations using case-control admixture mapping.
We performed genome-wide admixture mapping by comparing levels of local Native American, European, and African ancestry between children with asthma and nonasthmatic control subjects in Puerto Rican and Mexican populations. Within candidate peaks, we performed allelic tests of association, controlling for differences in local ancestry.
Between the 2 populations, we identified a total of 62 admixture mapping peaks at a P value of less than 10(-3) that were significantly enriched for previously identified asthma-associated genes (P= .0051). One of the peaks was statistically significant based on 100 permutations in the Mexican sample (6q15); however, it was not significant in Puerto Rican subjects. Another peak was identified at nominal significance in both populations (8q12); however, the association was observed with different ancestries.
Case-control admixture mapping is a promising strategy for identifying novel asthma-associated loci in Latino populations and implicates genetic variation at 6q15 and 8q12 regions with asthma susceptibility. This approach might be useful for identifying regions that contribute to both shared and population-specific differences in asthma susceptibility.
The Journal of allergy and clinical immunology 04/2012; 130(1):76-82.e12. · 9.17 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: MOTIVATION: It is becoming increasingly evident that the analysis of genotype data from recently admixed populations is providing important insights into medical genetics and population history. Such analyses have been used to identify novel disease loci, to understand recombination rate variation and to detect recent selection events. The utility of such studies crucially depends on accurate and unbiased estimation of the ancestry at every genomic locus in recently admixed populations. Although various methods have been proposed and shown to be extremely accurate in two-way admixtures (e.g. African Americans), only a few approaches have been proposed and thoroughly benchmarked on multi-way admixtures (e.g. Latino populations of the Americas). RESULTS: To address these challenges we introduce here methods for local ancestry inference which leverage the structure of linkage disequilibrium in the ancestral population (LAMP-LD), and incorporate the constraint of Mendelian segregation when inferring local ancestry in nuclear family trios (LAMP-HAP). Our algorithms uniquely combine hidden Markov models (HMMs) of haplotype diversity within a novel window-based framework to achieve superior accuracy as compared with published methods. Further, unlike previous methods, the structure of our HMM does not depend on the number of reference haplotypes but on a fixed constant, and it is thereby capable of utilizing large datasets while remaining highly efficient and robust to over-fitting. Through simulations and analysis of real data from 489 nuclear trio families from the mainland US, Puerto Rico and Mexico, we demonstrate that our methods achieve superior accuracy compared with published methods for local ancestry inference in Latinos.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Common variation in over 100 genes has been implicated in the risk of developing asthma, but the contribution of rare variants to asthma susceptibility remains largely unexplored. We selected nine genes that showed the strongest signatures of weak purifying selection from among 53 candidate asthma-associated genes, and we sequenced the coding exons and flanking noncoding regions in 450 asthmatic cases and 515 nonasthmatic controls. We observed an overall excess of p values <0.05 (p = 0.02), and rare variants in four genes (AGT, DPP10, IKBKAP, and IL12RB1) contributed to asthma susceptibility among African Americans. Rare variants in IL12RB1 were also associated with asthma susceptibility among European Americans, despite the fact that the majority of rare variants in IL12RB1 were specific to either one of the populations. The combined evidence of association with rare noncoding variants in IL12RB1 remained significant (p = 3.7 × 10(-4)) after correcting for multiple testing. Overall, the contribution of rare variants to asthma susceptibility was predominantly due to noncoding variants in sequences flanking the exons, although nonsynonymous rare variants in DPP10 and in IL12RB1 were associated with asthma in African Americans and European Americans, respectively. This study provides evidence that rare variants contribute to asthma susceptibility. Additional studies are required for testing whether prioritizing genes for resequencing on the basis of signatures of purifying selection is an efficient means of identifying novel rare variants that contribute to complex disease.
The American Journal of Human Genetics 02/2012; 90(2):273-81. · 11.20 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (LC-PUFAs) are essential for brain structure, development, and function, and adequate dietary quantities of LC-PUFAs are thought to have been necessary for both brain expansion and the increase in brain complexity observed during modern human evolution. Previous studies conducted in largely European populations suggest that humans have limited capacity to synthesize brain LC-PUFAs such as docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) from plant-based medium chain (MC) PUFAs due to limited desaturase activity. Population-based differences in LC-PUFA levels and their product-to-substrate ratios can, in part, be explained by polymorphisms in the fatty acid desaturase (FADS) gene cluster, which have been associated with increased conversion of MC-PUFAs to LC-PUFAs. Here, we show evidence that these high efficiency converter alleles in the FADS gene cluster were likely driven to near fixation in African populations by positive selection ∼85 kya. We hypothesize that selection at FADS variants, which increase LC-PUFA synthesis from plant-based MC-PUFAs, played an important role in allowing African populations obligatorily tethered to marine sources for LC-PUFAs in isolated geographic regions, to rapidly expand throughout the African continent 60-80 kya.
PLoS ONE 01/2012; 7(9):e44926. · 3.73 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Objectives: Identifying drivers of complex traits from the noisy signals of genetic variation obtained from high-throughput genome sequencing technologies is a central challenge faced by human geneticists today. We hypothesize that the variants involved in complex diseases are likely to exhibit non-neutral evolutionary signatures. Uncovering the evolutionary history of all variants is therefore of intrinsic interest for complex disease research. However, doing so necessitates the simultaneous elucidation of the targets of natural selection and population-specific demographic history. Methods: Here we characterize the action of natural selection operating across complex disease categories, and use population genetic simulations to evaluate the expected patterns of genetic variation in large samples. We focus on populations that have experienced historical bottlenecks followed by explosive growth (consistent with many human populations), and describe the differences between evolutionarily deleterious mutations and those that are neutral. Results: Genes associated with several complex disease categories exhibit stronger signatures of purifying selection than non-disease genes. In addition, loci identified through genome-wide association studies of complex traits also exhibit signatures consistent with being in regions recurrently targeted by purifying selection. Through simulations, we show that population bottlenecks and rapid growth enable deleterious rare variants to persist at low frequencies just as long as neutral variants, but low-frequency and common variants tend to be much younger than neutral variants. This has resulted in a large proportion of modern-day rare alleles that have a deleterious effect on function and that potentially contribute to disease susceptibility. Conclusions: The key question for sequencing-based association studies of complex traits is how to distinguish between deleterious and benign genetic variation. We used population genetic simulations to uncover patterns of genetic variation that distinguish these two categories, especially derived allele age, thereby providing inroads into novel methods for characterizing rare genetic variation driving complex diseases.
Human Heredity 01/2012; 74(3-4):118-28. · 1.57 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Asthma is a common disease with a complex risk architecture including both genetic and environmental factors. We performed a meta-analysis of North American genome-wide association studies of asthma in 5,416 individuals with asthma (cases) including individuals of European American, African American or African Caribbean, and Latino ancestry, with replication in an additional 12,649 individuals from the same ethnic groups. We identified five susceptibility loci. Four were at previously reported loci on 17q21, near IL1RL1, TSLP and IL33, but we report for the first time, to our knowledge, that these loci are associated with asthma risk in three ethnic groups. In addition, we identified a new asthma susceptibility locus at PYHIN1, with the association being specific to individuals of African descent (P = 3.9 × 10(-9)). These results suggest that some asthma susceptibility loci are robust to differences in ancestry when sufficiently large samples sizes are investigated, and that ancestry-specific associations also contribute to the complex genetic architecture of asthma.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Studies of recombination and how it varies depend crucially on accurate recombination maps. We propose a new approach for constructing high-resolution maps of relative recombination rates based on the observation of ancestry switch points among admixed individuals. We show the utility of this approach using simulations and by applying it to SNP genotype data from a sample of 2,565 African Americans and 299 African Caribbeans and detecting several hundred thousand recombination events. Comparison of the inferred map with high-resolution maps from non-admixed populations provides evidence of fine-scale differentiation in recombination rates between populations. Overall, the admixed map is well predicted by the average proportion of admixture and the recombination rate estimates from the source populations. The exceptions to this are in areas surrounding known large chromosomal structural variants, specifically inversions. These results suggest that outside of structurally variable regions, admixture does not substantially disrupt the factors controlling recombination rates in humans.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Arachidonic acid (AA) is a long-chain omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acid (PUFA) synthesized from the precursor dihomo-gamma-linolenic acid (DGLA) that plays a vital role in immunity and inflammation. Variants in the Fatty Acid Desaturase (FADS) family of genes on chromosome 11q have been shown to play a role in PUFA metabolism in populations of European and Asian ancestry; no work has been done in populations of African ancestry to date.
In this study, we report that African Americans have significantly higher circulating levels of plasma AA (p = 1.35 × 10(-48)) and lower DGLA levels (p = 9.80 × 10(-11)) than European Americans. Tests for association in N = 329 individuals across 80 nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in the Fatty Acid Desaturase (FADS) locus revealed significant association with AA, DGLA and the AA/DGLA ratio, a measure of enzymatic efficiency, in both racial groups (peak signal p = 2.85 × 10(-16) in African Americans, 2.68 × 10(-23) in European Americans). Ancestry-related differences were observed at an upstream marker previously associated with AA levels (rs174537), wherein, 79-82% of African Americans carry two copies of the G allele compared to only 42-45% of European Americans. Importantly, the allelic effect of the G allele, which is associated with enhanced conversion of DGLA to AA, on enzymatic efficiency was similar in both groups.
We conclude that the impact of FADS genetic variants on PUFA metabolism, specifically AA levels, is likely more pronounced in African Americans due to the larger proportion of individuals carrying the genotype associated with increased FADS1 enzymatic conversion of DGLA to AA.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Common genetic variations in the IL4 gene have been associated with asthma and atopy in European and Asian populations, but not in African Americans.
Because populations of African descent have increased levels of genetic variation compared with other populations, particularly with respect to low frequency or rare variants, we hypothesized that rare variants in the IL4 gene contribute to the development of asthma in African Americans.
To test this hypothesis, we sequenced the IL4 locus in 72 African Americans with asthma and 70 African American controls without asthma to identify novel and rare polymorphisms in the IL4 gene that may be contributing to asthma susceptibility.
We report an excess of private noncoding single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in the subjects with asthma compared with control subjects without asthma (P = .031). Tajima's D is significantly more negative in subjects with asthma (-0.375) than controls (-0.073; P = .04), reflecting an excess of rare variants in the subjects with asthma.
Our findings indicate that SNPs at the IL4 locus that are potentially exclusive to African Americans are associated with susceptibility to asthma. Only 3 of the 26 private SNPs (ie, SNPs present only in the subjects with asthma or only in the controls) are tagged by single SNPs on one of the common genotyping platforms used in genome-wide association studies. We also find that most of the private SNPs cannot be reliably imputed, highlighting the importance of sequencing to identify genetic variants contributing to common diseases in African Americans.
The Journal of allergy and clinical immunology 11/2009; 124(6):1204-9.e9. · 9.17 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Analysis of polymorphism and divergence in the non-coding portion of the human genome yields crucial information about factors driving the evolution of gene regulation. Candidate cis-regulatory regions spanning more than 15,000 genes in 15 African Americans and 20 European Americans were re-sequenced and aligned to the chimpanzee genome in order to identify potentially functional polymorphism and to characterize and quantify departures from neutral evolution. Distortions of the site frequency spectra suggest a general pattern of selective constraint on conserved non-coding sites in the flanking regions of genes (CNCs). Moreover, there is an excess of fixed differences that cannot be explained by a Gamma model of deleterious fitness effects, suggesting the presence of positive selection on CNCs. Extensions of the McDonald-Kreitman test identified candidate cis-regulatory regions with high probabilities of positive and negative selection near many known human genes, the biological characteristics of which exhibit genome-wide trends that differ from patterns observed in protein-coding regions. Notably, there is a higher probability of positive selection in candidate cis-regulatory regions near genes expressed in the fetal brain, suggesting that a larger portion of adaptive regulatory changes has occurred in genes expressed during brain development. Overall we find that natural selection has played an important role in the evolution of candidate cis-regulatory regions throughout hominid evolution.