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Stobdan, T., Akbari, A., Azad, P., Zhou, D., Poulsen, O., Appenzeller, O., Gonzales, G.F., Telenti, A., Wong, E.H.M., Saini, S., Kirkness, E.F., Venter, J.C., Bafna, V., Haddad, G.G. (2017). New Insights into the Genetic Basis of Monge's Disease and Adaptation to High-Altitude.  Mol. Biol. Evol. 34(12): 3154--3168.
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Research paper

Human high-altitude (HA) adaptation or mal-adaptation is explored to understand the physiology, pathophysiology, and molecular mechanisms that underlie long-term exposure to hypoxia. Here, we report the results of an analysis of the largest whole-genome-sequencing of Chronic Mountain Sickness (CMS) and nonCMS individuals, identified candidate genes and functionally validated these candidates in a genetic model system (Drosophila). We used PreCIOSS algorithm that uses Haplotype Allele Frequency score to separate haplotypes carrying the favored allele from the noncarriers and accordingly, prioritize genes associated with the CMS or nonCMS phenotype. Haplotypes in eleven candidate regions, with SNPs mostly in nonexonic regions, were significantly different between CMS and nonCMS subjects. Closer examination of individual genes in these regions revealed the involvement of previously identified candidates (e.g., SENP1) and also unreported ones SGK3, COPS5, PRDM1, and IFT122 in CMS. Remarkably, in addition to genes like SENP1, SGK3, and COPS5 which are HIF-dependent, our study reveals for the first time HIF-independent gene PRDM1, indicating an involvement of wider, nonHIF pathways in HA adaptation. Finally, we observed that down-regulating orthologs of these genes in Drosophila significantly enhanced their hypoxia tolerance. Taken together, the PreCIOSS algorithm, applied on a large number of genomes, identifies the involvement of both new and previously reported genes in selection sweeps, highlighting the involvement of multiple hypoxia response systems. Since the overwhelming majority of SNPs are in nonexonic (and possibly regulatory) regions, we speculate that adaptation to HA necessitates greater genetic flexibility allowing for transcript variability in response to graded levels of hypoxia.

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PubMed Central ID
PMC5850797 (PMC) (EuropePMC)
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    Publication Type
    Mol. Biol. Evol.
    Molecular Biology and Evolution
    Publication Year
    0737-4038 1537-1719
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