[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Leucocyte telomere length (LTL), which is fashioned by multiple genes, has been linked to a host of human diseases, including sporadic melanoma. A number of genes associated with LTL have already been identified through genome-wide association studies. The main aim of this study was to establish whether DCAF4 (DDB1 and CUL4-associated factor 4) is associated with LTL. In addition, using ingenuity pathway analysis (IPA), we examined whether LTL-associated genes in the general population might partially explain the inherently longer LTL in patients with sporadic melanoma, the risk for which is increased with ultraviolet radiation (UVR).
Genome-wide association (GWA) meta-analysis and de novo genotyping of 20 022 individuals revealed a novel association (p=6.4×10(-10)) between LTL and rs2535913, which lies within DCAF4. Notably, eQTL analysis showed that rs2535913 is associated with decline in DCAF4 expressions in both lymphoblastoid cells and sun-exposed skin (p=4.1×10(-3) and 2×10(-3), respectively). Moreover, IPA revealed that LTL-associated genes, derived from GWA meta-analysis (N=9190), are over-represented among genes engaged in melanoma pathways. Meeting increasingly stringent p value thresholds (p<0.05, <0.01, <0.005, <0.001) in the LTL-GWA meta-analysis, these genes were jointly over-represented for melanoma at p values ranging from 1.97×10(-169) to 3.42×10(-24).
We uncovered a new locus associated with LTL in the general population. We also provided preliminary findings that suggest a link of LTL through genetic mechanisms with UVR and melanoma in the general population.
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Journal of Medical Genetics 01/2015; 52(3). DOI:10.1136/jmedgenet-2014-102681 · 5.64 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Africa is the birthplace of anatomically modern humans, and is the geographic origin of human migration across the globe within the last 100,000 years. The history of African populations has consisted of a number of demographic events that have influenced patterns of genetic and phenotypic variation across the continent. With the increasing amount of genomic data and corresponding developments in computational methods, researchers are able to explore long-standing evolutionary questions, expanding our understanding of human history within and outside of Africa. This review will summarize some of the recent findings regarding African demographic history, including the African Diaspora, and will briefly explore their implications for disease susceptibility in populations of African descent.
Current Opinion in Genetics & Development 10/2014; 29:120-132. DOI:10.1016/j.gde.2014.09.003 · 8.57 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Gene conversion results in the nonreciprocal transfer of genetic information between two recombining sequences, and there is evidence that this process is biased toward G and C alleles. However, the strength of GC-biased gene conversion (gBGC) in human populations and its effects on hereditary disease have yet to be assessed on a genomic scale. Using high-coverage whole-genome sequences of African hunter-gatherers, agricultural populations, and primate outgroups, we quantified the effects of GC-biased gene conversion on population genomic data sets. We find that genetic distances (FST and population branch statistics) are modified by gBGC. In addition, the site frequency spectrum is left-shifted when ancestral alleles are favored by gBGC and right-shifted when derived alleles are favored by gBGC. Allele frequency shifts due to gBGC mimic the effects of natural selection. As expected, these effects are strongest in high-recombination regions of the human genome. By comparing the relative rates of fixation of unbiased and biased sites, the strength of gene conversion was estimated to be on the order of Nb ≈ 0.05 to 0.09. We also find that derived alleles favored by gBGC are much more likely to be homozygous than derived alleles at unbiased SNPs (+42.2% to 62.8%). This results in a curse of the converted, whereby gBGC causes substantial increases in hereditary disease risks. Taken together, our findings reveal that GC-biased gene conversion has important population genetic and public health implications.
The American Journal of Human Genetics 10/2014; 95(4):408-20. DOI:10.1016/j.ajhg.2014.09.008 · 10.99 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Background
MiRNA expression profiling is being actively investigated as a clinical biomarker and diagnostic tool to detect multiple cancer types and stages as well as other complex diseases. Initial investigations, however, have not comprehensively taken into account genetic variability affecting miRNA expression and/or function in populations of different ethnic backgrounds. Therefore, more complete surveys of miRNA genetic variability are needed to assess global patterns of miRNA variation within and between diverse human populations and their effect on clinically relevant miRNA genes.
Genetic variation in 1524 miRNA genes was examined using whole genome sequencing (60x coverage) in a panel of 69 unrelated individuals from 14 global populations, including European, Asian and African populations.
We identified 33 previously undescribed miRNA variants, and 31 miRNA containing variants that are globally population-differentiated in frequency between African and non-African populations (PD-miRNA). The top 1% of PD-miRNA were significantly enriched for regulation of genes involved in glucose/insulin metabolism and cell division (p < 10−7), most significantly the mitosis pathway, which is strongly linked to cancer onset. Overall, we identify 7 PD-miRNAs that are currently implicated as cancer biomarkers or diagnostics: hsa-mir-202, hsa-mir-423, hsa-mir-196a-2, hsa-mir-520h, hsa-mir-647, hsa-mir-943, and hsa-mir-1908. Notably, hsa-mir-202, a potential breast cancer biomarker, was found to show significantly high allele frequency differentiation at SNP rs12355840, which is known to affect miRNA expression levels in vivo and subsequently breast cancer mortality.
MiRNA expression profiles represent a promising new category of disease biomarkers. However, population specific genetic variation can affect the prevalence and baseline expression of these miRNAs in diverse populations. Consequently, miRNA genetic and expression level variation among ethnic groups may be contributing in part to health disparities observed in multiple forms of cancer, specifically breast cancer, and will be an essential consideration when assessing the utility of miRNA biomarkers for the clinic.
BMC Medical Genomics 08/2014; 7(1):53. DOI:10.1186/1755-8794-7-53 · 3.91 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Because modern humans originated in Africa and have adapted to diverse environments, African populations have high levels of genetic and phenotypic diversity. Thus, genomic studies of diverse African ethnic groups are essential for understanding human evolutionary history and how this leads to differential disease risk in all humans. Comparative studies of genetic diversity within and between African ethnic groups creates an opportunity to reconstruct some of the earliest events in human population history and are useful for identifying patterns of genetic variation that have been influenced by recent natural selection. Here we describe what is currently known about genetic variation and evolutionary history of diverse African ethnic groups. We also describe examples of recent natural selection in African genomes and how these data are informative for understanding the frequency of many genetic traits, including those that cause disease susceptibility in African populations and populations of recent African descent.
Cold Spring Harbor perspectives in biology 07/2014; 6(7). DOI:10.1101/cshperspect.a008524 · 8.23 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Bitter taste perception, mediated by receptors encoded by the TAS2R loci, has important roles in human health and nutrition. Prior studies have demonstrated that nonsynonymous variation at site 516 in the coding exon of TAS2R16, a bitter taste receptor gene on chromosome 7, has been subject to positive selection and is strongly correlated with differences in sensitivity to salicin, a bitter anti-inflammatory compound, in human populations. However, a recent study suggested that the derived G-allele at rs702424 in the TAS2R16 promoter has also been the target of recent selection and may have an additional effect on the levels of salicin bitter taste perception. Here, we examined alleles at rs702424 for signatures of selection using Extended Haplotype Homozygosity (EHH) and FST statistics in diverse populations from West Central, Central and East Africa. We also performed a genotype-phenotype analysis of salicin sensitivity in a subset of 135 individuals from East Africa. Based on our data, we did not find evidence for positive selection at rs702424 in African populations, suggesting that nucleotide position 516 is likely the site under selection at TAS2R16. Moreover, we did not detect a significant association between rs702424 alleles and salicin bitter taste recognition, implying that this site does not contribute to salicin phenotypic variance. Overall, this study of African diversity provides further information regarding the genetic architecture and evolutionary history of a biologically-relevant trait in humans.Journal of Human Genetics advance online publication, 1 May 2014; doi:10.1038/jhg.2014.29.
Journal of Human Genetics 05/2014; 59(6). DOI:10.1038/jhg.2014.29 · 2.53 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: In humans, the ability to digest lactose, the sugar in milk, declines after weaning because of decreasing levels of the enzyme lactase-phlorizin hydrolase, encoded by LCT. However, some individuals maintain high enzyme amounts and are able to digest lactose into adulthood (i.e., they have the lactase-persistence [LP] trait). It is thought that selection has played a major role in maintaining this genetically determined phenotypic trait in different human populations that practice pastoralism. To identify variants associated with the LP trait and to study its evolutionary history in Africa, we sequenced MCM6 introns 9 and 13 and ∼2 kb of the LCT promoter region in 819 individuals from 63 African populations and in 154 non-Africans from nine populations. We also genotyped four microsatellites in an ∼198 kb region in a subset of 252 individuals to reconstruct the origin and spread of LP-associated variants in Africa. Additionally, we examined the association between LP and genetic variability at candidate regulatory regions in 513 individuals from eastern Africa. Our analyses confirmed the association between the LP trait and three common variants in intron 13 (C-14010, G-13907, and G-13915). Furthermore, we identified two additional LP-associated SNPs in intron 13 and the promoter region (G-12962 and T-956, respectively). Using neutrality tests based on the allele frequency spectrum and long-range linkage disequilibrium, we detected strong signatures of recent positive selection in eastern African populations and the Fulani from central Africa. In addition, haplotype analysis supported an eastern African origin of the C-14010 LP-associated mutation in southern Africa.
The American Journal of Human Genetics 03/2014; 94(4). DOI:10.1016/j.ajhg.2014.02.009 · 10.99 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: We sequenced the genomes of a ~7,000 year old farmer from Germany and eight
~8,000 year old hunter-gatherers from Luxembourg and Sweden. We analyzed these and other
ancient genomes1–4 with 2,345 contemporary humans to show that most
present Europeans derive from at least three highly differentiated populations: West
European Hunter-Gatherers (WHG), who contributed ancestry to all Europeans but not to Near
Easterners; Ancient North Eurasians (ANE) related to Upper Paleolithic Siberians3, who contributed to both Europeans and Near
Easterners; and Early European Farmers (EEF), who were mainly of Near Eastern origin but
also harbored WHG-related ancestry. We model these populations’ deep relationships
and show that EEF had ~44% ancestry from a “Basal Eurasian”
population that split prior to the diversification of other non-African lineages.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Recent efforts have attempted to describe the population structure of common chimpanzee, focusing on four subspecies: Pan troglodytes verus, P. t. ellioti, P. t. troglodytes, and P. t. schweinfurthii. However, few studies have pursued the effects of natural selection in shaping their response to pathogens and reproduction. Whey acidic protein (WAP) four-disulfide core domain (WFDC) genes and neighboring semenogelin (SEMG) genes encode proteins with combined roles in immunity and fertility. They display a strikingly high rate of amino acid replacement (dN/dS), indicative of adaptive pressures during primate evolution. In human populations, three signals of selection at the WFDC locus were described, possibly influencing the proteolytic profile and antimicrobial activities of the male reproductive tract. To evaluate the patterns of genomic variation and selection at the WFDC locus in chimpanzees, we sequenced 17 WFDC genes and 47 autosomal pseudogenes in 68 chimpanzees (15 P. t. troglodytes, 22 P. t. verus, and 31 P. t. ellioti). We found a clear differentiation of P. t. verus and estimated the divergence of P. t. troglodytes and P. t. ellioti subspecies in 0.173 Myr; further, at the WFDC locus we identified a signature of strong selective constraints common to the three subspecies in WFDC6—a recent paralog of the epididymal protease inhibitor EPPIN. Overall, chimpanzees and humans do not display similar footprints of selection across the WFDC locus, possibly due to different selective pressures between the two species related to immune response and reproductive biology.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Recent advances in genotyping technologies have facilitated genome-wide scans for natural selection. Identification of targets of natural selection will shed light on processes of human adaptation and evolution and could be important for identifying variation that influences both normal human phenotypic variation as well as disease susceptibility. Here we focus on studies of natural selection in modern humans who originated ~200,000 years go in Africa and migrated across the globe ~50,000 - 100,000 years ago. Movement into new environments, as well as changes in culture and technology including plant and animal domestication, resulted in local adaptation to diverse environments. We summarize statistical approaches for detecting targets of natural selection and for distinguishing the effects of demographic history from natural selection. On a genome-wide scale, immune-related genes appear to be major targets of positive selection. Genes associated with reproduction and fertility also appear to be fast evolving. Additional examples of recent human adaptation include genes associated with lactase persistence, eccrine glands, and response to hypoxia. Lastly, we emphasize the need to supplement scans of selection with functional studies to demonstrate the physiologic impact of candidate loci.
Annual Review of Ecology Evolution and Systematics 11/2013; 44:123-143. DOI:10.1146/annurev-ecolsys-110512-135833 · 10.98 Impact Factor