[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The emergence of agriculture in West-Central Africa approximately 5,000 years ago, profoundly modified the cultural landscape and mode of subsistence of most sub-Saharan populations. How this major innovation has had an impact on the genetic history of rainforest hunter-gatherers-historically referred to as 'pygmies'-and agriculturalists, however, remains poorly understood. Here we report genome-wide SNP data from these populations located west-to-east of the equatorial rainforest. We find that hunter-gathering populations present up to 50% of farmer genomic ancestry, and that substantial admixture began only within the last 1,000 years. Furthermore, we show that the historical population sizes characterizing these communities already differed before the introduction of agriculture. Our results suggest that the first socio-economic interactions between rainforest hunter-gatherers and farmers introduced by the spread of farming were not accompanied by immediate, extensive genetic exchanges and occurred on a backdrop of two groups already differentiated by their specialization in two ecotopes with differing carrying capacities.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are critical regulators of gene expression and their role in a wide variety of biological processes, including host antimicrobial defense, is increasingly well described. Consistent with their diverse functional effects, miRNA expression is highly context-dependent and shows marked changes upon cellular activation. However, the genetic control of miRNA expression in response to external stimuli and the impact of such perturbations on miRNA-mediated regulatory networks at the population level remain to be determined. Here we assessed changes in miRNA expression upon Mycobacterium tuberculosis infection and mapped expression quantitative trait loci (eQTL) in dendritic cells from a panel of healthy individuals. Genome-wide expression profiling revealed that ~40% of miRNAs are differentially expressed upon infection. We find that the expression of 3% of miRNAs is controlled by proximate genetic factors, which are enriched in a promoter-specific histone modification associated with active transcription. Notably, we identify two infection-specific response eQTLs, for miR-326 and miR-1260, providing an initial assessment of the impact of genotype-environment interactions on miRNA molecular phenotypes. Furthermore, we show that infection coincides with a marked remodeling of the genome-wide relationships between miRNA and mRNA expression levels. This observation, supplemented by experimental data using the model of miR-29a, sheds light on the role of a set of miRNAs in cellular responses to infection. Collectively, this study increases our understanding of the genetic architecture of miRNA expression in response to infection, and highlights the wide-reaching impact of altering miRNA expression on the transcriptional landscape of a cell.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Human genetic studies are rarely conducted for immunological purposes. Instead, they are typically driven by medical and evolutionary goals, such as understanding the predisposition or resistance to infectious or inflammatory diseases, the pathogenesis of such diseases, and human evolution in the context of the long-standing relationships between humans and their commensal and environmental microbes. However, the dissection of these experiments of Nature has also led to major immunological advances. In this review, we draw on some of the immunological lessons learned in the three branches of human molecular genetics most relevant to immunology: clinical genetics, epidemiological genetics, and evolutionary genetics. We argue that human genetics has become a new frontier not only for timely studies of specific features of human immunity, but also for defining general principles of immunity. These studies teach us about immunity as it occurs under "natural" conditions, through the transition from the almost complete wilderness that existed worldwide until about a century ago to the current unevenly distributed medically shaped environment. Hygiene, vaccines, antibiotics, and surgery have considerably decreased the burden of infection, but these interventions have been available only recently, so have yet to have a major impact on patterns of genomic diversity, making it possible to carry out unbiased evolutionary studies at the population level. Clinical genetic studies of childhood phenotypes have not been blurred by modern medicine either. Instead, medical advances have actually facilitated such studies, by making it possible for children with life-threatening infections to survive. In addition, the prevention and treatment of infectious diseases have increased life expectancy at birth from ∼20 yr to ∼80 yr, providing unique opportunities to study the genetic basis of immunological phenomena against which there is no natural counterselection, such as reactivation and secondary infectious diseases and breakdown of self-tolerance manifesting as autoimmunity, in populations of adult and aging patients. Recently developed deep sequencing and stem cell technologies are of unprecedented power, and their application to human genetics is opening up exciting and timely possibilities for young immunologists seeking uncharted waters to explore.
Cold Spring Harbor Symposia on Quantitative Biology 10/2013;
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Demographic changes are known to leave footprints on genetic polymorphism. Together with the increased availability of large polymorphism datasets, coalescent-based methods allow inferring the past demography of populations from their present-day patterns of genetic diversity. Here, we analyzed both nuclear (20 non-coding regions) and mitochondrial (HVS-I) re-sequencing data to infer the demographic history of 66 African and Eurasian human populations presenting contrasting life-styles (nomadic hunter-gatherers, nomadic herders and sedentary farmers). This allowed us to investigate the relationship between life-style and demography, and to address the long-standing debate about the chronology of demographic expansions and the Neolithic transition. In Africa, we inferred expansion events for farmers, but constant population sizes or contraction events for hunter-gatherers. In Eurasia, we inferred higher expansion rates for farmers than herders with HVS-I data, except in Central Asia and Korea. Although isolation and admixture processes could have impacted our demographic inferences, these processes alone seem unlikely to explain the contrasted demographic histories inferred in populations with different life-styles. The small expansion rates or constant population sizes inferred for herders and hunter-gatherers may thus result from constraints linked to nomadism. However, autosomal data revealed contraction events for two sedentary populations in Eurasia, which may be caused by founder effects. Finally, the inferred expansions likely predated the emergence of agriculture and herding. This suggests that human populations could have started to expand in Paleolithic times, and that strong Paleolithic expansions in some populations may have ultimately favored their shift towards agriculture during the Neolithic.
Molecular Biology and Evolution 09/2013; · 10.35 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The study of the genetic and selective landscape of immunity genes across primates can provide insight into the existing differences in susceptibility to infection observed between human and non-human primates. Here, we explored how selection has driven the evolution of a key family of innate immunity receptors, the Toll-like receptors (TLRs), in African great ape species. We sequenced the ten TLRs in various populations of chimpanzees and gorillas, and analysed these data jointly with a human dataset. We found that purifying selection has been more pervasive in great apes than in humans. Furthermore, in chimpanzees and gorillas, purifying selection has targeted TLRs irrespectively of whether they are endosomal or cell-surface, in contrast with humans where strong selective constraints are restricted to endosomal TLRs. These observations suggest important differences in the relative importance of TLR-mediated pathogen sensing, such as that of recognition of flagellated bacteria by TLR5, between human and great apes. Lastly, we used a population genetics-phylogenetics method that jointly analyse polymorphism and divergence data to detect fine-scale variation in selection pressures at specific codons within TLR genes. We identified different codons at different TLRs as being under positive selection in each species, highlighting that functional variation at these genes has conferred a selective advantage in immunity to infection to specific primate species. Overall, this study showed that the degree of selection driving the evolution of TLRs has largely differed between human and non-human primates, increasing our knowledge on their respective biological contribution to host defence in the natural setting.
Human Molecular Genetics 07/2013; · 7.69 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Investigations of the legacy of natural selection in the human genome have proved particularly informative, pinpointing functionally important regions that have participated in our genetic adaptation to the environment. Furthermore, genetic dissection of the intensity and type of selection acting on human genes can be used to predict involvement in different forms and severities of human diseases. We review here the progress made in population genetics studies toward understanding the effects of selection, in its different forms and intensities, on human genome diversity. We discuss some outstanding, robust examples of genes and biological functions subject to strong dietary, climatic and pathogen selection pressures. We also explore the possible relationship between cancer and natural selection, a topic that has been largely neglected because cancer is generally seen as a late-onset disease. Finally, we discuss how the present-day incidence of some diseases of modern societies may represent a by-product of past adaptation to other selective forces and changes in lifestyle. This perspective thus illustrates the value of adopting a population genetics approach in delineating the biological mechanisms that have played a major evolutionary role in the way humans have genetically adapted to different environments and lifestyles over time.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Haplogroup H dominates present-day Western European mitochondrial DNA variability (>40%), yet was less common (~19%) among Early Neolithic farmers (~5450 BC) and virtually absent in Mesolithic hunter-gatherers. Here we investigate this major component of the maternal population history of modern Europeans and sequence 39 complete haplogroup H mitochondrial genomes from ancient human remains. We then compare this ‘real-time’ genetic data with cultural changes taking place between the Early Neolithic (~5450 BC) and Bronze Age (~2200 BC) in Central Europe. Our results reveal that the current diversity and distribution of haplogroup H were largely established by the Mid Neolithic (~4000 BC), but with substantial genetic contributions from subsequent pan-European cultures such as the Bell Beakers expanding out of Iberia in the Late Neolithic (~2800 BC). Dated haplogroup H genomes allow us to reconstruct the recent evolutionary history of haplogroup H and reveal a mutation rate 45% higher than current estimates for human mitochondria.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Homogeneous Proto-Slavic genetic substrate and/or extensive mixing after World War II were suggested to explain homogeneity of contemporary Polish paternal lineages. Alternatively, Polish local populations might have displayed pre-war genetic heterogeneity owing to genetic drift and/or gene flow with neighbouring populations. Although sharp genetic discontinuity along the political border between Poland and Germany indisputably results from war-mediated resettlements and homogenisation, it remained unknown whether Y-chromosomal diversity in ethnically/linguistically defined populations was clinal or discontinuous before the war. In order to answer these questions and elucidate early Slavic migrations, 1156 individuals from several Slavic and German populations were analysed, including Polish pre-war regional populations and an autochthonous Slavic population from Germany. Y chromosomes were assigned to 39 haplogroups and genotyped for 19 STRs. Genetic distances revealed similar degree of differentiation of Slavic-speaking pre-war populations from German populations irrespective of duration and intensity of contacts with German speakers. Admixture estimates showed minor Slavic paternal ancestry (∼20%) in modern eastern Germans and hardly detectable German paternal ancestry in Slavs neighbouring German populations for centuries. BATWING analysis of isolated Slavic populations revealed that their divergence was preceded by rapid demographic growth, undermining theory that Slavic expansion was primarily linguistic rather than population spread. Polish pre-war regional populations showed within-group heterogeneity and lower STR variation within R-M17 subclades compared with modern populations, which might have been homogenised by war resettlements. Our results suggest that genetic studies on early human history in the Vistula and Oder basins should rely on reconstructed pre-war rather than modern populations.European Journal of Human Genetics advance online publication, 12 September 2012; doi:10.1038/ejhg.2012.190.
European journal of human genetics: EJHG 04/2013; 21:415-422. · 3.56 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Isolated congenital asplenia (ICA) is characterized by the absence of a spleen at birth in individuals with no other developmental defects. The patients are prone to life-threatening bacterial infections. The unbiased analysis of exomes revealed heterozygous mutations in RPSA in 18 patients from eight kindreds, corresponding to more than half the patients and over one-third of the kindreds studied. The clinical penetrance in these kindreds is complete. Expression studies indicated that the mutations carried by the patients-a nonsense, a frameshift duplication, and five different missense-cause autosomal dominant ICA by haploinsufficiency. RPSA encodes ribosomal protein SA, a component of the small subunit of the ribosome. This discovery establishes an essential role for RPSA in human spleen development.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: High-throughput genomic data reveal thousands of gene variants per patient, and it is often difficult to determine which of these variants underlies disease in a given individual. However, at the population level, there may be some degree of phenotypic homogeneity, with alterations of specific physiological pathways underlying the pathogenesis of a particular disease. We describe here the human gene connectome (HGC) as a unique approach for human Mendelian genetic research, facilitating the interpretation of abundant genetic data from patients with the same disease, and guiding subsequent experimental investigations. We first defined the set of the shortest plausible biological distances, routes, and degrees of separation between all pairs of human genes by applying a shortest distance algorithm to the full human gene network. We then designed a hypothesis-driven application of the HGC, in which we generated a Toll-like receptor 3-specific connectome useful for the genetic dissection of inborn errors of Toll-like receptor 3 immunity. In addition, we developed a functional genomic alignment approach from the HGC. In functional genomic alignment, the genes are clustered according to biological distance (rather than the traditional molecular evolutionary genetic distance), as estimated from the HGC. Finally, we compared the HGC with three state-of-the-art methods: String, FunCoup, and HumanNet. We demonstrated that the existing methods are more suitable for polygenic studies, whereas HGC approaches are more suitable for monogenic studies. The HGC and functional genomic alignment data and computer programs are freely available to noncommercial users from http://lab.rockefeller.edu/casanova/HGC and should facilitate the genome-wide selection of disease-causing candidate alleles for experimental validation.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 03/2013; · 9.74 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Sociocultural phenomena, such as exogamy or phylopatry, can largely determine human sex-specific demography. In Central Africa, diverging patterns of sex-specific genetic variation have been observed between mobile hunter-gatherer Pygmies and sedentary agricultural non-Pygmies. However, their sex-specific demography remains largely unknown. Using population genetics and Approximate Bayesian Computation approaches, we inferred male and female effective population sizes, sex-specific migration and admixture rates in 23 Central African Pygmy and non-Pygmy populations, genotyped for autosomal, X-linked, Y-linked and mitochondrial markers. We found much larger effective population sizes and migration rates among non-Pygmy populations than among Pygmies, in agreement with the recent expansions and migrations of non-Pygmies and, conversely, the isolation and stationary demography of Pygmy groups. We found larger effective sizes and migration rates for males than for females for Pygmies, and vice versa for non-Pygmies. Thus, although most Pygmy populations have patrilocal customs, their sex-specific genetic patterns resemble those of matrilocal populations. In fact, our results are consistent with a lower prevalence of polygyny and patrilocality in Pygmies compared to non-Pygmies and a potential female transmission of reproductive success in Pygmies. Finally, Pygmy populations showed variable admixture levels with the non-Pygmies, with often much larger introgression from male than from female lineages. Social discrimination against Pygmies triggering complex movements of spouses in intermarriages can explain these male-biased admixture patterns in a patrilocal context. We show how gender-related sociocultural phenomena can determine highly variable sex-specific demography among populations, and how population genetic approaches contrasting chromosomal types allow inferring detailed human sex-specific demographic history.
Molecular Biology and Evolution 01/2013; · 10.35 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Since their discovery, innate immunity microbial sensors have been increasingly studied and shown to play a critical role in innate responses to microbes in several experimental in vitro, ex vivo, and animal models. However, their role in the human response to infection in natural conditions has just started to be deciphered, by means of clinical studies of primary immunodeficiencies and epidemiological genetic studies. Here, we summarize the major findings concerning the genetic diversity of the various families of microbial sensors in humans, and of other molecules involved in the signaling pathways they trigger. Specifically, we review the genetic associations, revealed by both clinical and epidemiological genetics studies, of microbial sensors from five different families: Toll-like receptors, C-type lectin receptors, NOD-like receptors, RIG-I-like receptors, and cytosolic DNA sensors. In particular, we consider the relationships between variation at the genes encoding these molecules and susceptibility to and the severity of infectious diseases and other clinical conditions associated with immune dysfunction, including autoimmunity, inflammation, allergy, and cancer. Despite the fact that the genetic links between innate immunity sensors and human disorders remain still limited, human genetics studies are increasingly improving our understanding of the genuine functions of microbial sensors and downstream signaling molecules in the natural setting.
International Reviews Of Immunology 01/2013; 32(2):157-208. · 5.73 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Progress in genomic technologies, such as DNA arrays and next-generation sequencing, is allowing systematic characterization of the degree of human genetic variation at the scale of individual genomes. Public efforts, such as the International HapMap Project and the 1000 Genomes Project, have provided a realistic picture of the levels of genetic diversity in individuals and populations. These genomic techniques are also making it possible to evaluate the contribution of host genetic diversity to differences in susceptibility to both rare and common infectious diseases. Recent studies have revealed the power of whole-exome sequencing for dissecting the immunological mechanisms underlying the pathogenesis of severe, rare infectious diseases. Likewise, genome-wide association studies on common viral, bacterial, and parasitic infections have shed light on the host genetic basis of susceptibility to infectious diseases and, in some cases, of disease progression and drug responses.
Cold Spring Harbor perspectives in medicine. 01/2013; 3(1).
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The evolutionary genetics dissection of immunity-related genes provides insights into immunological defence mechanisms and highlight host pathways playing an important role in pathogen resistance. Recent population genetic data have increased knowledge of the biological relevance of human interferons (IFN), cytokines released by host cells in response to pathogen presence or tumour cells. Some IFN-α subtypes as well as IFN-γ are strongly evolutionarily constrained, suggesting that the functions they fulfil are essential and non redundant. Other IFN, the most extreme cases being IFN-α10 and IFN-ε, can accumulate missense or nonsense mutations at high population frequencies, suggesting higher redundancy. Furthermore, genetic variation at some IFN genes can be advantageous for the host and increase in frequency by positive selection. This has been shown for type III IFN, where mutations at IL28A, IL28B and IL29 have been positively selected in Europeans and Asians, most likely by increasing resistance to viral infection. This review uses the IFN paradigm to illustrate the value of the evolutionary approach in highlighting important determinants of host immune responsiveness in the natural setting.
Medecine sciences: M/S 12/2012; 28(12):1095-101. · 0.56 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Host-pathogen interactions are generally initiated by host recognition of microbial components or danger signals triggered by microbial invasion. This recognition involves germline-encoded microbial sensors or pattern-recognition receptors (PRRs). By studying the way in which natural selection has driven the evolution of these microbial sensors in humans, we can identify genes playing an essential role and distinguish them from other, more redundant genes. We characterized the sequence diversity of the NOD-like receptor family, including the NALP and NOD/IPAF subfamilies, in various populations worldwide and compared this diversity with that of other PRR families, such as Toll-like receptors (TLRs) and RIG-I-like receptors (RLRs). We found that most NALPs had evolved under strong selective constraints, suggesting that their functions are essential and possibly much broader than previously thought. Conversely, most NOD/IPAF subfamily members were subject to more relaxed selective constraints, suggesting greater redundancy. Furthermore, some NALP genes, including NLRP1, NLRP14, and CIITA, were found to have evolved adaptively. We identified those variants conferring a selective advantage on some human populations as the most likely targets of positive selection. More generally, the strength of selection differed considerably between the major families of microbial sensors. Endosomal TLRs and most NALPs were found to evolve under stronger purifying selection than most NOD/IPAF subfamily members and cell-surface TLRs and RLRs, suggesting some degree of redundancy in the signaling pathways triggered by these molecules. This study provides novel perspectives and experimentally testable hypotheses concerning the relative biological relevance of the various families of microbial sensors in humans.
The American Journal of Human Genetics 06/2012; 91(1):27-37. · 11.20 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Basque people have received considerable attention from anthropologists, geneticists, and linguists during the last century due to the singularity of their language and to other cultural and biological characteristics. Despite the multidisciplinary efforts performed to address the questions of the origin, uniqueness, and heterogeneity of Basques, the genetic studies performed up to now have suffered from a weak study design where populations are not analyzed in an adequate geographic and population context. To address the former questions and to overcome these design limitations, we have analyzed the uniparentally inherited markers (Y chromosome and mitochondrial DNA) of ~900 individuals from 18 populations, including those where Basque is currently spoken and populations from adjacent regions where Basque might have been spoken in historical times. Our results indicate that Basque-speaking populations fall within the genetic Western European gene pool, that they are similar to geographically surrounding non-Basque populations, and also that their genetic uniqueness is based on a lower amount of external influences compared with other Iberians and French populations. Our data suggest that the genetic heterogeneity and structure observed in the Basque region result from pre-Roman tribal structure related to geography and might be linked to the increased complexity of emerging societies during the Bronze Age. The rough overlap of the pre-Roman tribe location and the current dialect limits support the notion that the environmental diversity in the region has played a recurrent role in cultural differentiation and ethnogenesis at different time periods.
Molecular Biology and Evolution 03/2012; 29(9):2211-22. · 10.35 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Different lines of evidence point to the resettlement of much of western and central Europe by populations from the Franco-Cantabrian region during the Late Glacial and Postglacial periods. In this context, the study of the genetic diversity of contemporary Basques, a population located at the epicenter of the Franco-Cantabrian region, is particularly useful because they speak a non-Indo-European language that is considered to be a linguistic isolate. In contrast with genome-wide analysis and Y chromosome data, where the problem of poor time estimates remains, a new timescale has been established for the human mtDNA and makes this genome the most informative marker for studying European prehistory. Here, we aim to increase knowledge of the origins of the Basque people and, more generally, of the role of the Franco-Cantabrian refuge in the postglacial repopulation of Europe. We thus characterize the maternal ancestry of 908 Basque and non-Basque individuals from the Basque Country and immediate adjacent regions and, by sequencing 420 complete mtDNA genomes, we focused on haplogroup H. We identified six mtDNA haplogroups, H1j1, H1t1, H2a5a1, H1av1, H3c2a, and H1e1a1, which are autochthonous to the Franco-Cantabrian region and, more specifically, to Basque-speaking populations. We detected signals of the expansion of these haplogroups at ∼4,000 years before present (YBP) and estimated their separation from the pan-European gene pool at ∼8,000 YBP, antedating the Indo-European arrival to the region. Our results clearly support the hypothesis of a partial genetic continuity of contemporary Basques with the preceding Paleolithic/Mesolithic settlers of their homeland.
The American Journal of Human Genetics 02/2012; 90(3):486-93. · 11.20 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Interferons (IFNs) are cytokines that play a key role in innate and adaptive immune responses. Despite the large number of immunological studies of these molecules, the relative contributions of the numerous IFNs to human survival remain largely unknown. Here, we evaluated the extent to which natural selection has targeted the human IFNs and their receptors, to provide insight into the mechanisms that govern host defense in the natural setting. We found that some IFN-α subtypes, such as IFN-α6, IFN-α8, IFN-α13, and IFN-α14, as well as the type II IFN-γ, have evolved under strong purifying selection, attesting to their essential and nonredundant function in immunity to infection. Conversely, selective constraints have been relaxed for other type I IFNs, particularly for IFN-α10 and IFN-ε, which have accumulated missense or nonsense mutations at high frequencies within the population, suggesting redundancy in host defense. Finally, type III IFNs display geographically restricted signatures of positive selection in European and Asian populations, indicating that genetic variation at these genes has conferred a selective advantage to the host, most likely by increasing resistance to viral infection. Our population genetic analyses show that IFNs differ widely in their biological relevance, and highlight evolutionarily important determinants of host immune responsiveness.
Journal of Experimental Medicine 12/2011; 208(13):2747-59. · 13.21 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The NAIP gene encodes an intracellular innate immunity receptor that senses flagellin. The genomic region containing NAIP presents a complex genomic organization and includes various NAIP paralogs. Here, we assessed the degree of copy number variation of the complete NAIP gene (NAIPFull) in various human populations and studied the functional impact of such variation on host cell fate using Legionella pneumophila as an infection model. We determined that African populations have a NAIPFull duplication at a higher frequency than Europeans and Asians, with an increased transcription of the gene. In addition, we demonstrated that a higher amount of the NAIPFull protein dramatically increases cell death upon infection by L. pneumophila, a mechanism that may account for increased host resistance to infection. We postulate that the NAIPFull gene duplication might have been evolutionary maintained, or even selected for, because it may confer an advantage to the host against flagellated bacteria.
Human immunology 10/2011; 73(2):196-200. · 2.55 Impact Factor