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Hum Hered. 2010;69(1):34-44. doi: 10.1159/000243152. Epub 2009 Oct 2.

The diversity profile of TP53 is influenced by positive selection on the immediately upstream locus WDR79.

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Department of Genetics, Physical Anthropology and Animal Physiology, University of the Basque Country, Barrio Sarriena s/n, ES-48940 Leioa, Bizkaia, Spain.



TP53 is an efficient central node in a signal transduction network that responds to minimize cancer. However, over 50% of tumors show some mutation in TP53. Thus, one might argue that this single central node network lacks robustness. Therefore, we wanted to investigate if natural selection has played a role in shaping the genomic region containing TP53.


We have analyzed the HapMap data for evidence of selection using F(ST) pairwise comparisons and the extended haplotype homozygosity test on a 200-kb region encompassing TP53. We have also resequenced 4 kb upstream TP53 in Europeans (including melanoma patients), Asians, Australian Aborigines and Africans.


Genetic hitchhiking by a linked, positively selected allele at the nearby gene WDR79 may be partly responsible for the sequence diversity profile of TP53. It can help explain why the TP53 Arg72 allele is the major allele in Europeans even when the alternative allele, 72Pro, has been reported to offer an increased longevity after disease.


Despite the important role of TP53, a complex interplay with other evolutionary forces, which are extrinsic to TP53 function, may have driven the genetic diversity pattern of this locus, and, as a consequence, its structure and function.

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