On the Evolution of Lactase Persistence in Humans

On the Evolution of Lactase Persistence in Humans Lactase persistencethe ability of adults to digest the lactose in milkvaries widely in frequency across human populations. This trait represents an adaptation to the domestication of dairying animals and the subsequent consumption of their milk. Five variants are currently known to underlie this phenotype, which is monogenic in Eurasia but mostly polygenic in Africa. Despite being a textbook example of regulatory convergent evolution and gene-culture coevolution, the story of lactase persistence is far from clear: Why are lactase persistence frequencies low in Central Asian herders but high in some African hunter-gatherers? Why was lactase persistence strongly selected for even though milk processing can reduce the amount of lactose? Are there other factors, outside of an advantage of caloric intake, that contributed to the selective pressure for lactase persistence? It is time to revisit what we know and still do not know about lactase persistence in humans. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Annual Review of Genomics and Human Genetics Annual Reviews

On the Evolution of Lactase Persistence in Humans

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Publisher
Annual Reviews
Copyright
Copyright 2017 by Annual Reviews. All rights reserved
ISSN
1527-8204
eISSN
1545-293X
D.O.I.
10.1146/annurev-genom-091416-035340
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Lactase persistencethe ability of adults to digest the lactose in milkvaries widely in frequency across human populations. This trait represents an adaptation to the domestication of dairying animals and the subsequent consumption of their milk. Five variants are currently known to underlie this phenotype, which is monogenic in Eurasia but mostly polygenic in Africa. Despite being a textbook example of regulatory convergent evolution and gene-culture coevolution, the story of lactase persistence is far from clear: Why are lactase persistence frequencies low in Central Asian herders but high in some African hunter-gatherers? Why was lactase persistence strongly selected for even though milk processing can reduce the amount of lactose? Are there other factors, outside of an advantage of caloric intake, that contributed to the selective pressure for lactase persistence? It is time to revisit what we know and still do not know about lactase persistence in humans.

Journal

Annual Review of Genomics and Human GeneticsAnnual Reviews

Published: Aug 31, 2017

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