The proclivity of Spaniards to bask in regions like the Costa del Sol while their northern European counterparts must stay under cover to protect their paler skin or risk skin cancer is due in large part to the pigment producing qualities of the MC1R gene locus. The MC1R gene, expressed in skin and hair follicle cells, is more diverse in Eurasian populations compared to African populations.
Now, a team of researchers led by Santos Alonso, et. al., have examined the evolutionary selective pressure for MC1R among a large population of Spaniards in comparison to their Northern Europeans counterparts as well as individuals with melanoma. Using data from the 1,000 Genomes Project as well as samples from different regions of Spain, they authors show that selection for the MC1R locus is strong in South Europeans, but not the case for Northern Europeans.
Two evolutionary selective processes seem to be acting on MC1R in Southern Europeans. On the one hand, there is selective pressure to maintain at high frequencies the ancestral form of the gene, also the one most common in Africans. But simultaneously, one gene variant seems to be favored in South Europeans. This gene variant, called the V60L allele, has been associated before with red/blond hair and fair skin.
World frequency distribution of V60L is confined mostly to Europe and the Near East but mostly absent in East Asia and Africa, indicating that the first appearance of V60L mutation occurred some time after modern humans left Africa but before dispersal throughout Europe. Fair skin depigmentation could be a useful change for the adaptation of humans to this new environment. Traditionally, depigmentation had been hypothetically explained as a function of the need of humans to synthesize vitamin D in areas of reduced sun light (compared to Africa). "We have not proved that this is the underlying reason for the signature of positive selection on V60L, but our data adds support to this view, although this point needs to be further explored" says Santos Alonso, senior author of the paper.
Interestingly, the same allele V60L has been associated to increased risk of melanoma, the most dangerous of skin cancers. This indicates", says Saioa López, one of the two main authors of the paper, "that the increase in fitness for the population as a consequence of depigmentation has had a collateral damage consequence for the individual´s health. This can be reconciled if we assume that melanoma is typically a post-reproductive disease, and consequently should have little effect on the individual's genetic contribution to the next generation. It constitutes a kind of evolutionary 'buy now pay later' trade-off.'"
To access the advanced online edition of the article, go to: http://mbe.oxfordjournals.org/content/early/recent
Joe Caspermeyer | EurekAlert!
Finnish research group discovers a new immune system regulator
23.02.2018 | University of Turku
Minimising risks of transplants
22.02.2018 | Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg
A newly developed laser technology has enabled physicists in the Laboratory for Attosecond Physics (jointly run by LMU Munich and the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics) to generate attosecond bursts of high-energy photons of unprecedented intensity. This has made it possible to observe the interaction of multiple photons in a single such pulse with electrons in the inner orbital shell of an atom.
In order to observe the ultrafast electron motion in the inner shells of atoms with short light pulses, the pulses must not only be ultrashort, but very...
A group of researchers led by Andrea Cavalleri at the Max Planck Institute for Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) in Hamburg has demonstrated a new method enabling precise measurements of the interatomic forces that hold crystalline solids together. The paper Probing the Interatomic Potential of Solids by Strong-Field Nonlinear Phononics, published online in Nature, explains how a terahertz-frequency laser pulse can drive very large deformations of the crystal.
By measuring the highly unusual atomic trajectories under extreme electromagnetic transients, the MPSD group could reconstruct how rigid the atomic bonds are...
Quantum computers may one day solve algorithmic problems which even the biggest supercomputers today can’t manage. But how do you test a quantum computer to...
For the first time, a team of researchers at the Max-Planck Institute (MPI) for Polymer Research in Mainz, Germany, has succeeded in making an integrated circuit (IC) from just a monolayer of a semiconducting polymer via a bottom-up, self-assembly approach.
In the self-assembly process, the semiconducting polymer arranges itself into an ordered monolayer in a transistor. The transistors are binary switches used...
Breakthrough provides a new concept of the design of molecular motors, sensors and electricity generators at nanoscale
Researchers from the Institute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry of the CAS (IOCB Prague), Institute of Physics of the CAS (IP CAS) and Palacký University...
15.02.2018 | Event News
13.02.2018 | Event News
12.02.2018 | Event News
23.02.2018 | Physics and Astronomy
23.02.2018 | Health and Medicine
23.02.2018 | Physics and Astronomy