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J Anthropol Sci. 2017 Dec 30;95:235-247. doi: 10.4436/JASS.95011. Epub 2017 Jul 10.

Multiple selective events at the PRDM16 functional pathway shaped adaptation of western European populations to different climate conditions.

Author information

1
Laboratory of Molecular Anthropology, Department of Biological, Geological and Environmental Sciences, University of Bologna, Bologna, 40126, Italy; Centre for Genome Biology, Department of Biological, Geological and Environmental Sciences, University of Bologna, Bologna, 40126, Italy; Human Microbiome Unit, Bambino GesĂș Children's Hospital and Research Institute, IRCCS, Rome, Italy,andrea.quagliariello@opbg.net.
2
Laboratory of Molecular Anthropology, Department of Biological, Geological and Environmental Sciences, University of Bologna, Bologna, 40126, Italy; Centre for Genome Biology, Department of Biological, Geological and Environmental Sciences, University of Bologna, Bologna, 40126, Italy.
3
Laboratory of Molecular Anthropology, Department of Biological, Geological and Environmental Sciences, University of Bologna, Bologna, 40126, Italy.

Abstract

Several studies highlighted the role of climate in shaping many human evolutionary processes. This occurred even in relatively recent times, having affected various human phenotypic traits, among which metabolic processes that orchestrate absorption and accumulation of substances to maintain energy homeostasis, that is critical for the survival of individuals in high energy-expenditure environments. To date, most researches have focalized on detection of climatic influence on SNPs' frequency in populations exposed to extreme environmental conditions or by comparing variation patterns between populations from different continents. In this study, we instead explored the genetic background of distinct western European human groups at loci involved in nutritional and thermoregulation processes, to test whether patterns of differential local adaptation to environmental conditions could be appreciated also at a lower geographical scale. Taking advantage from the 1000 Genomes Project data, genetic information for 21 genes involved in nutritional and thermoregulation processes was analysed for three western European populations. The applied Anthropological Genetics methods pointed to appreciable differentiation between the examined groups especially for the PRDM16 gene. Moreover, several neutrality tests suggested that balancing selection has acted on different regions of the gene in people from Great Britain, as well as that more recent positive selection could have also targeted some PRDM16 SNPs in Finn and Italian populations. These series of adaptive footprints are plausibly related to climate variability in both ancient and relatively recent times. Since this locus is involved in thermoregulation mechanisms and adipogenesis, local adaptations mediated by a pathway related to the brown adipose tissue activity could have evolved in response to changing cold temperature exposures of such populations.

PMID:
28696940
DOI:
10.4436/JASS.95011
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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