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Genome Biol. 2012 Jan 20;13(1):R1. doi: 10.1186/gb-2012-13-1-r1.

Genetic adaptation to high altitude in the Ethiopian highlands.

Author information

  • 1Department of Genetics, University of Pennsylvania, 415 Curie Boulevard, Philadelphia, PA 19104, USA.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Genomic analysis of high-altitude populations residing in the Andes and Tibet has revealed several candidate loci for involvement in high-altitude adaptation, a subset of which have also been shown to be associated with hemoglobin levels, including EPAS1, EGLN1, and PPARA, which play a role in the HIF-1 pathway. Here, we have extended this work to high- and low-altitude populations living in Ethiopia, for which we have measured hemoglobin levels. We genotyped the Illumina 1M SNP array and employed several genome-wide scans for selection and targeted association with hemoglobin levels to identify genes that play a role in adaptation to high altitude.

RESULTS:

We have identified a set of candidate genes for positive selection in our high-altitude population sample, demonstrated significantly different hemoglobin levels between high- and low-altitude Ethiopians and have identified a subset of candidate genes for selection, several of which also show suggestive associations with hemoglobin levels.

CONCLUSIONS:

We highlight several candidate genes for involvement in high-altitude adaptation in Ethiopia, including CBARA1, VAV3, ARNT2 and THRB. Although most of these genes have not been identified in previous studies of high-altitude Tibetan or Andean population samples, two of these genes (THRB and ARNT2) play a role in the HIF-1 pathway, a pathway implicated in previous work reported in Tibetan and Andean studies. These combined results suggest that adaptation to high altitude arose independently due to convergent evolution in high-altitude Amhara populations in Ethiopia.

PMID:
22264333
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMCID:
PMC3334582
Free PMC Article

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