Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Recent evolution at a single gene may have brought down heart disease risk in some human groups

07.09.2004


Heart disease is Europe’s leading cause of death, but new research shows that the disease’s toll would be much greater had natural selection not shifted the frequency of susceptibility genes over the past few tens of thousands of years. The work underscores the role of ancient natural selection in shaping contemporary public health.



The findings are reported by Matthew Rockman, Dagan Loisel, and Greg Wray at Duke University, Matthew Hahn at UC Davis, and David Goldstein and Nicole Soranzo at University College London. By analyzing DNA sequences from humans and other primates and comparing sequences among and within human populations, the researchers have cast light on the evolutionary history of a single DNA base pair that has been shown to influence heart disease.

The genetic trait under study concerns a particular base pair of DNA – one of billions in the human genome – that helps regulate the gene stromelysin-1, or MMP-3. The identity of the DNA base at this position differs between individuals and influences the rate of production of the gene’s product, an enzyme that degrades the extracellular matrix that makes up the walls of arteries.


Individuals with the low-expression version of the gene are slightly more prone to atherosclerosis, the narrowing of the arteries associated with the accumulation of plaque in the arterial walls. The new research shows that the high-expression variant increased rapidly in frequency in the ancient European population, though not elsewhere. The rapid increase, which is estimated to have begun around 24,000 years ago, is attributable to the action of natural selection favoring the variant, according to statistical analyses of genetic variation in several human populations.

The researchers’ new work also showed that the mutation that created the variant occurred at a site unusually prone to genetic change. By comparing human DNA with that of a diverse range of other primates, they showed that the variation in heart disease susceptibility is partly attributable to a so-called mutational "hotspot" that has naturally occurred in MMP-3’s regulatory DNA for millions of years. The researchers estimate that the incidence of heart disease events among modern European males would have been more than 40% higher than it is had there not been selection for the high-expression variant. The cause of the selection in recent evolution remains a subject for speculation; given its usual occurrence late in life, heart disease itself is considered to have been an unlikely driving force.

Heidi Hardman | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.cell.com

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Single-stranded DNA and RNA origami go live
15.12.2017 | Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard

nachricht New antbird species discovered in Peru by LSU ornithologists
15.12.2017 | Louisiana State University

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: First-of-its-kind chemical oscillator offers new level of molecular control

DNA molecules that follow specific instructions could offer more precise molecular control of synthetic chemical systems, a discovery that opens the door for engineers to create molecular machines with new and complex behaviors.

Researchers have created chemical amplifiers and a chemical oscillator using a systematic method that has the potential to embed sophisticated circuit...

Im Focus: Long-lived storage of a photonic qubit for worldwide teleportation

MPQ scientists achieve long storage times for photonic quantum bits which break the lower bound for direct teleportation in a global quantum network.

Concerning the development of quantum memories for the realization of global quantum networks, scientists of the Quantum Dynamics Division led by Professor...

Im Focus: Electromagnetic water cloak eliminates drag and wake

Detailed calculations show water cloaks are feasible with today's technology

Researchers have developed a water cloaking concept based on electromagnetic forces that could eliminate an object's wake, greatly reducing its drag while...

Im Focus: Scientists channel graphene to understand filtration and ion transport into cells

Tiny pores at a cell's entryway act as miniature bouncers, letting in some electrically charged atoms--ions--but blocking others. Operating as exquisitely sensitive filters, these "ion channels" play a critical role in biological functions such as muscle contraction and the firing of brain cells.

To rapidly transport the right ions through the cell membrane, the tiny channels rely on a complex interplay between the ions and surrounding molecules,...

Im Focus: Towards data storage at the single molecule level

The miniaturization of the current technology of storage media is hindered by fundamental limits of quantum mechanics. A new approach consists in using so-called spin-crossover molecules as the smallest possible storage unit. Similar to normal hard drives, these special molecules can save information via their magnetic state. A research team from Kiel University has now managed to successfully place a new class of spin-crossover molecules onto a surface and to improve the molecule’s storage capacity. The storage density of conventional hard drives could therefore theoretically be increased by more than one hundred fold. The study has been published in the scientific journal Nano Letters.

Over the past few years, the building blocks of storage media have gotten ever smaller. But further miniaturization of the current technology is hindered by...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

See, understand and experience the work of the future

11.12.2017 | Event News

Innovative strategies to tackle parasitic worms

08.12.2017 | Event News

AKL’18: The opportunities and challenges of digitalization in the laser industry

07.12.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Engineers program tiny robots to move, think like insects

15.12.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering

One in 5 materials chemistry papers may be wrong, study suggests

15.12.2017 | Materials Sciences

New antbird species discovered in Peru by LSU ornithologists

15.12.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>