Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Evolving genes lead to evolving genes: Selection in European populations of genes regulated by FOXP2

Date:
April 18, 2013
Source:
Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute
Summary:
Researchers have designed a method that can universally test for evolutionary adaption, or positive (Darwinian) selection, in any chosen set of genes, using re-sequencing data such as that generated by the 1000 Genomes Project. The method identifies gene sets that show evidence for positive selection in comparison with matched controls, and thus highlights genes for further functional studies.

DNA strands (illustration).
Credit: © Alexandr Mitiuc / Fotolia

Researchers have designed a method that can universally test for evolutionary adaption, or positive (Darwinian) selection, in any chosen set of genes, using re-sequencing data such as that generated by the 1000 Genomes Project. The method identifies gene sets that show evidence for positive selection in comparison with matched controls, and thus highlights genes for further functional studies.

The method was employed to test whether any of the genes directly regulated by FOXP2 may themselves have undergone positive selection following the known selection at the FOXP2 genetic region. Human FOXP2 defects have been implicated in speech and language disorders, and altered versions of the gene have been selected several times during human evolution. Have these evolutionary changes in FOXP2 function or expression exposed its target genes to novel selective pressures?

The study used three sets of genes regulated by FOXP2 that had been identified by previous genomic screens in mice and humans. These sets were compared with matched controls using this method.

"Our method worked well and overall, there was strong evidence for selection of FOXP2-regulated genes in the Europeans, but not in the Asian, or African populations," says Dr Qasim Ayub, first author from the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute. "The subset of FOXP2-regulated genes that were selected in Europeans play roles in neural cell development, cellular signalling, reproduction and immunity."

The selection in the Europeans might be due to local adaptations to environment or pathogens. Some of the genes, such as CNTNAP2 and RBFOX1, showed strong signals of selection in all populations examined. Intriguingly, both these genes are highly expressed in the brain and have been implicated in neurodevelopmental disorders, including autism.

"Our study highlights how genes can acquire and adapt to different roles in human evolution. We should never underestimate how complex human biology can be." says Professor Simon Fisher, a co-author from the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics. "A next step could be to test whether variants in the selected genes are associated with risk of human neurodevelopmental problems, like language impairments and autism spectrum disorders. Genetic networks can give us powerful insights into the biology underlying these important disorders, which make a major impact on modern human society."

"We have already started using this method to look for selection in various other gene sets such as those associated with diabetes and viral infections," says Dr Chris Tyler-Smith, lead author from the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute. "Our method is opening new doors to understanding how modern humans have genetically adapted to their local environments and finding candidate genes to study biological function. This approach is a practical and successful way to screen for positive selection and adaptation signals in different gene sets and populations using whole-genome sequencing data."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Qasim Ayub, Bryndis Yngvadottir, Yuan Chen, Yali Xue, Min Hu, Sonja C. Vernes, Simon E. Fisher, Chris Tyler-Smith. FOXP2 Targets Show Evidence of Positive Selection in European Populations. The American Journal of Human Genetics, 2013; DOI: 10.1016/j.ajhg.2013.03.019

Cite This Page:

Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute. "Evolving genes lead to evolving genes: Selection in European populations of genes regulated by FOXP2." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 18 April 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/04/130418124905.htm>.
Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute. (2013, April 18). Evolving genes lead to evolving genes: Selection in European populations of genes regulated by FOXP2. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/04/130418124905.htm
Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute. "Evolving genes lead to evolving genes: Selection in European populations of genes regulated by FOXP2." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/04/130418124905.htm (accessed October 21, 2014).

Share This



More Fossils & Ruins News

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Fish Fossil Shows First-Ever Sex Was Done Side By Side

Fish Fossil Shows First-Ever Sex Was Done Side By Side

Newsy (Oct. 19, 2014) — A 380-million-year-old fish may be the first creature to have copulative sex - and it was side by side with arms linked, like square dancers. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
As Sweden Hunts For Sub, "Cold War" Comparisons Flourish

As Sweden Hunts For Sub, "Cold War" Comparisons Flourish

Newsy (Oct. 19, 2014) — With Sweden on the look-out for a suspected Russian sub, a lot of people are talking about the Cold War, but is it an apt comparison? Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
So, Kangaroos Didn't Always Hop

So, Kangaroos Didn't Always Hop

Newsy (Oct. 16, 2014) — Researchers believe an extinct kangaroo species weighed 500 pounds or more and couldn't hop. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
1000-Year-Old Viking Treasure Hoard Found in Scotland

1000-Year-Old Viking Treasure Hoard Found in Scotland

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Oct. 14, 2014) — A hoard of Viking artifacts dating back over 1,000 years is discovered by a treasure hunter with a metal detector in Scotland. Elly Park reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins