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Positive selection in Europeans and East-Asians at the ABCA12 gene

By Roberto Sirica, Marianna Buonaiuto, Valeria Petrella, Lucia Sticco, Donatella Tramontano, Dario Antonini, Caterina Missero, Ombretta Guardiola, Gennaro Andolfi, Heerman Kumar, Qasim Ayub, Yali Xue, Chris Tyler-Smith, M. Salvemini, Giovanni D’Angelo, Vincenza Colonna

Posted 16 Aug 2018
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/392811 (published DOI: 10.1038/s41598-019-40360-9)

Natural selection acts on genetic variants by increasing the frequency of alleles responsible for a cellular function that is favorable in a certain environment. In a previous genome-wide scan for positive selection in contemporary humans, we identified a signal of positive selection in European and Asians at the genetic variant rs10180970. The variant is located in the second intron of the ABCA12 gene, which is implicated in the lipid barrier formation and down-regulated by UVB radiation. We studied the signal of selection in the genomic region surrounding rs10180970 in a larger dataset that includes DNA sequences from ancient samples. We also investigated the functional consequences of gene expression of the alleles of rs10180970 and another genetic variant in its proximity in healthy volunteers exposed to similar UV radiation. We confirmed the selection signal and refine its location that extends over 35 kb and includes the first intron, the first two exons and the transcription starting site of ABCA12. We found no obvious effect of rs10180970 alleles on ABCA12 gene expression. We reconstructed the trajectory of the T allele over the last 80,000 years to discover that it was specific to H. sapiens and frequent among non-Africans already 45,000 years ago.

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