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Mol Biol Evol. 2015 May;32(5):1186-96. doi: 10.1093/molbev/msv007. Epub 2015 Jan 19.

Long-Term Balancing Selection in LAD1 Maintains a Missense Trans-Species Polymorphism in Humans, Chimpanzees, and Bonobos.

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Department of Evolutionary Genetics, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Leipzig, Germany.
Department of Integrative Biology, University of California, Berkeley.
International Center for Insect Physiology and Ecology, Nairobi, Kenya.
Clinique vétérinaire du Dr. Jacquemin, Maisons-Alfort, France.
Lola Ya Bonobo sanctuary, Kinshasa, Democratic Republic Congo.
Réserve Naturelle Sanctuaire à Chimpanzés de Tchimpounga, Jane Goodall Institute, Pointe-Noire, Republic of Congo.
Department of Evolutionary Genetics, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Leipzig, Germany


Balancing selection maintains advantageous genetic and phenotypic diversity in populations. When selection acts for long evolutionary periods selected polymorphisms may survive species splits and segregate in present-day populations of different species. Here, we investigate the role of long-term balancing selection in the evolution of protein-coding sequences in the Homo-Pan clade. We sequenced the exome of 20 humans, 20 chimpanzees, and 20 bonobos and detected eight coding trans-species polymorphisms (trSNPs) that are shared among the three species and have segregated for approximately 14 My of independent evolution. Although the majority of these trSNPs were found in three genes of the major histocompatibility locus cluster, we also uncovered one coding trSNP (rs12088790) in the gene LAD1. All these trSNPs show clustering of sequences by allele rather than by species and also exhibit other signatures of long-term balancing selection, such as segregating at intermediate frequency and lying in a locus with high genetic diversity. Here, we focus on the trSNP in LAD1, a gene that encodes for Ladinin-1, a collagenous anchoring filament protein of basement membrane that is responsible for maintaining cohesion at the dermal-epidermal junction; the gene is also an autoantigen responsible for linear IgA disease. This trSNP results in a missense change (Leucine257Proline) and, besides altering the protein sequence, is associated with changes in gene expression of LAD1.


LAD1; balancing selection; great apes; trans-species polymorphism

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