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PLoS One. 2017 Apr 26;12(4):e0176530. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0176530. eCollection 2017.

Revealing phenotype-associated functional differences by genome-wide scan of ancient haplotype blocks.

Author information

Bioinformatics Team, Advanced Analysis Center, National Agriculture and Food Research Organization (NARO), 2-1-2 Kannondai, Tsukuba, Ibaraki, Japan.
Human Genome Center, Institute of Medical Science, University of Tokyo, 4-6-1 Shirokanedai, Minato-ku, Tokyo, Japan.
Bioinformatics Center, Institute for Chemical Research, Kyoto University, Gokasho, Uji, Kyoto, Japan.


Genome-wide scans for positive selection have become important for genomic medicine, and many studies aim to find genomic regions affected by positive selection that are associated with risk allele variations among populations. Most such studies are designed to detect recent positive selection. However, we hypothesize that ancient positive selection is also important for adaptation to pathogens, and has affected current immune-mediated common diseases. Based on this hypothesis, we developed a novel linkage disequilibrium-based pipeline, which aims to detect regions associated with ancient positive selection across populations from single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) data. By applying this pipeline to the genotypes in the International HapMap project database, we show that genes in the detected regions are enriched in pathways related to the immune system and infectious diseases. The detected regions also contain SNPs reported to be associated with cancers and metabolic diseases, obesity-related traits, type 2 diabetes, and allergic sensitization. These SNPs were further mapped to biological pathways to determine the associations between phenotypes and molecular functions. Assessments of candidate regions to identify functions associated with variations in incidence rates of these diseases are needed in the future.

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