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Mol Biol Evol. 2010 Aug;27(8):1945-54. doi: 10.1093/molbev/msq082. Epub 2010 Mar 17.

Polymorphisms in the CPB2 gene are maintained by balancing selection and result in haplotype-preferential splicing of exon 7.

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  • 1Bioinformatic Laboratory, Scientific Institute IRCCS E. Medea, Bosisio Parini (LC), Italy.


The CPB2 gene encodes thrombin-activatable fibrinolysis inhibitor (TAFI), a hepatically secreted zymogen acting as a molecular link among coagulation, fibrinolysis, and inflammation. Variants in CPB2 have been associated with several human conditions. We resequenced and analyzed the two regions carrying previously known nonsynonimous single-nucleotide polymorphisms (Ala147Thr and Ile325Thr) and variants affecting transcript stability. Our data indicate that whereas the gene portion extending from exon 9 to the 3' untranslated region fits a model of neutral evolution, variants in the region encompassing exons 6-7 have been maintained by balancing selection. Indeed, we verified that the region displays high nucleotide diversity, many intermediate frequency variants, and an excess of polymorphism compared with interspecific divergence. Consistently, haplotype analysis indicated the presence of two major haplotype clades separated by deep branches. Transcript analysis revealed that in both HepG2 cells and human liver samples, CPB2 exon 7 undergoes haplotype-preferential skipping. Therefore, we indicate that balancing selection has been maintaining functional variants that promote alternative exon 7 splicing. Although transcripts lacking exon 7 represent a minority of total CPB2 products, the effect on antifibrinolytic activity might be much greater as the intrinsic instability of TAFI is a major determinant of its antifibrinolytic potential. These data highlight the contribution of population genetics approaches to the analysis of functional genetic variation and may orient further biochemical and genetics studies on the pathophysiologic role of CPB2 gene products.

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