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Science. 2015 Sep 18;349(6254):1343-7. doi: 10.1126/science.aab2319.

Greenlandic Inuit show genetic signatures of diet and climate adaptation.

Author information

1
Department of Genetics, Evolution, and Environment, University College London, London WC1E 6BT, UK. Department of Integrative Biology, University of California-Berkeley, Berkeley, CA 94720, USA.
2
The Bioinformatics Centre, Department of Biology, University of Copenhagen, 2200 Copenhagen, Denmark.
3
The Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Basic Metabolic Research, Section of Metabolic Genetics, Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, University of Copenhagen, 2100 Copenhagen, Denmark.
4
Department of Integrative Biology, University of California-Berkeley, Berkeley, CA 94720, USA.
5
National Institute of Public Health, University of Southern Denmark, 1353 Copenhagen, Denmark. Greenland Center for Health Research, University of Greenland, Nuuk, Greenland.
6
National Institute of Public Health, University of Southern Denmark, 1353 Copenhagen, Denmark. Steno Diabetes Center, 2820 Gentofte, Denmark.
7
Centre for GeoGenetics, Natural History Museum of Denmark, University of Copenhagen, 1350 Copenhagen, Denmark.
8
Department of Genetics, Evolution, and Environment, University College London, London WC1E 6BT, UK. Department of Anthropology, University College London, London WC1H 0BW, UK.
9
Research Centre for Prevention and Health, Capital Region of Denmark, Copenhagen, Denmark. Department of Clinical Experimental Research, Rigshospitalet, Glostrup, Denmark. Department of Clinical Medicine, Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Denmark.
10
Department of Medicine, Lillebaelt Hospital, Vejle, Denmark.
11
Department of Clinical Biochemistry, Lillebaelt Hospital, Vejle, Denmark. Institute of Regional Health Research, University of Southern Denmark, Odense, Denmark.
12
Research Centre for Prevention and Health, Capital Region of Denmark, Copenhagen, Denmark. Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Denmark. Faculty of Medicine, University of Aalborg, Aalborg, Denmark.
13
School of Natural Sciences, University of California-Merced, Merced, CA 95343, USA.
14
Faculty of Medicine, University of Aalborg, Aalborg, Denmark. Department of Cardiology, Aalborg University Hospital, 9100 Aalborg, Denmark.
15
The Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Basic Metabolic Research, Section of Metabolic Genetics, Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, University of Copenhagen, 2100 Copenhagen, Denmark. torben.hansen@sund.ku.dk albrecht@binf.ku.dk rasmus_nielsen@berkeley.edu.
16
The Bioinformatics Centre, Department of Biology, University of Copenhagen, 2200 Copenhagen, Denmark. torben.hansen@sund.ku.dk albrecht@binf.ku.dk rasmus_nielsen@berkeley.edu.
17
Department of Integrative Biology, University of California-Berkeley, Berkeley, CA 94720, USA. Department of Statistics, University of California-Berkeley, Berkeley, CA 94720, USA. torben.hansen@sund.ku.dk albrecht@binf.ku.dk rasmus_nielsen@berkeley.edu.

Abstract

The indigenous people of Greenland, the Inuit, have lived for a long time in the extreme conditions of the Arctic, including low annual temperatures, and with a specialized diet rich in protein and fatty acids, particularly omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs). A scan of Inuit genomes for signatures of adaptation revealed signals at several loci, with the strongest signal located in a cluster of fatty acid desaturases that determine PUFA levels. The selected alleles are associated with multiple metabolic and anthropometric phenotypes and have large effect sizes for weight and height, with the effect on height replicated in Europeans. By analyzing membrane lipids, we found that the selected alleles modulate fatty acid composition, which may affect the regulation of growth hormones. Thus, the Inuit have genetic and physiological adaptations to a diet rich in PUFAs.

Comment in

PMID:
26383953
DOI:
10.1126/science.aab2319
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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