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Nat Genet. Author manuscript; available in PMC Apr 23, 2009.
Published in final edited form as:
Published online Dec 10, 2006. doi:  10.1038/ng1946
PMCID: PMC2672153
EMSID: UKMS4417

Convergent adaptation of human lactase persistence in Africa and Europe

Abstract

A SNP in the gene encoding lactase (LCT) (C/T-13910) is associated with the ability to digest milk as adults (lactase persistence) in Europeans, but the genetic basis of lactase persistence in Africans was previously unknown. We conducted a genotype-phenotype association study in 470 Tanzanians, Kenyans and Sudanese and identified three SNPs (G/C-14010, T/G-13915 and C/G-13907) that are associated with lactase persistence and that have derived alleles that significantly enhance transcription from the LCT promoter in vitro. These SNPs originated on different haplotype backgrounds from the European C/T-13910 SNP and from each other. Genotyping across a 3-Mb region demonstrated haplotype homozygosity extending >2.0 Mb on chromosomes carrying C-14010, consistent with a selective sweep over the past ~7,000 years. These data provide a marked example of convergent evolution due to strong selective pressure resulting from shared cultural traits—animal domestication and adult milk consumption.

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