Human settlement from the African ancestral home was accompanied by cultural and genetic adaptation to new habitat conditions (climate, infections, diet, etc.). We previously suggested for the first time an approach to the identification of human genes presumably involved in adaptation to evolutionary new environmental factors based on a combination of genetic and humanitarian methods of study. In order to search for the genes involved in adaptation and for environmental factors (to which this adaptation occurs), we attempted to find correlations between the population allele frequencies of the studied gene and formalized descriptions of peculiarities of the habitat of ethnic groups given in “Ethnographic Atlas” by G.P. Murdock. In the presented review, we summarized our own data on an experimental determination of the allele frequencies for lactase (LCT*), apolipoprotein E (APOE), and alcohol dehydrogenase (ADH1B) genes in populations of Russia. Based on these data and available materials of other investigators, we developed maps of worldwide allele frequency distribution for these genes. We detected a correlation of allele frequencies of these genes in populations with the presence of certain factors of the environment that these populations inhabit. It was also confirmed that the evolutionarily young LCT*-13910T allele, which determines lactase persistence and the possibility of milk consumption in adults, is distributed in populations for which dairy animal husbandry is typical. During the analysis of 68 populations, we for the first time demonstrated that the frequency of the APOE e4 allele (which is ancestral for humans and influences the lipid metabolism) is higher in groups with a high contribution of hunting and gathering. Our data are in favor of the hypothesis that it was exactly the e4 allele that was a subject for selection, while the e3 allele was less important for adaptation. We also for the first time demonstrated that the evolutionarily young ADH1B*48His allele (which determines a high rate of ethanol metabolism into acetaldehyde) is presented with a large frequency in those populations where filariasis is endemic. The obtained data indicate the possible involvement of endogenous ADH1B gene substrates or their metabolites in the resistance to filaria and open a new path to the development of drugs for this widespread human disease.
Russian Journal of Genetics – Springer Journals
Published: Apr 21, 2015
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