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Ann Hum Genet. 2005 May;69(Pt 3):260-7.

Simultaneous selection of the wild-type genotypes of the G894T and 4B/ 4A polymorphisms of NOS3 associate with high-altitude adaptation.

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Functional Genomics Unit, Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology, Mall Road, Delhi, India.


The routine performance of high-altitude (HA) natives in the hypoxic environment of HA exemplifies the process of adaptation mainly through natural selection. The recent therapeutic application of nitric oxide (NO) in HA disorders, for the improvement of oxygenation and vasodilation, ushered us to investigate the endothelial nitric oxide synthase gene (NOS3) with respect to HA adaptation. The study subjects, 131 HA monks (HAM), 136 HA controls (HAC), and 170 lowlanders (LLs) were screened for NOS3 G894T (Glu298Asp) and 4B/4A polymorphisms. The NO levels were estimated, for a correlation with the polymorphisms. The three groups were in Hardy-Weinberg equilibrium for the polymorphisms. The overall genotype distributions for the G894T and 4B/4A polymorphisms were significant (P = 0.01 and 0.02, respectively) in the three groups. Wild-type alleles G and 4B were significantly over-represented in the HA groups as compared to the LLs (P = 0.006 and P = 0.02, respectively). The NO levels were in the order of HAM>HAC>LLs (P < 0.0001). Furthermore, combinations of the GG and BB genotypes were distributed significantly more frequently in the HAM (P < 0.0001) and HAC (P = 0.0005) than in LLs. The NO levels contributed by the wild-type genotype combination GG, BB were significantly elevated when compared with the remaining eight genotype combinations together in the HAM, HAC and LLs (P = 0.003, P = 0.0006 and P < 0.0001, respectively). To conclude, the genotype combination of NOS3 wild-type homozygotes (GG, BB) was found significantly more frequently in HA groups than in LLs, by contributing to higher NO levels associated with HA adaptation.

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