Long-term balancing selection in LAD1 maintains a missense trans-species polymorphism in humans, chimpanzees and bonobos

Long-term balancing selection in LAD1 maintains a missense trans-species polymorphism in humans, chimpanzees and bonobos
João C. Teixeira, Cesare de Filippo, Antje Weihmann, Juan R. Meneu, Fernando Racimo, Michael Dannemann, Birgit Nickel, Anne Fischer, Michel Halbwax, Claudine Andre, Rebeca Atencia, Matthias Meyer, Genís Parra, Svante Pääbo, Aida M. Andrés

Balancing selection maintains advantageous genetic and phenotypic diversity in populations. When selection acts for long evolutionary periods selected polymorphisms may survive species splits and segregate in present-day populations of different species. Here, we investigated the role of long-term balancing selection in the evolution of protein-coding sequences in the Pan-Homo clade. We sequenced the exome of 20 humans, 20 chimpanzees and 20 bonobos and detected eight coding trans-species polymorphisms (trSNPs) that are shared among the three species and have segregated for approximately 14 million years of independent evolution. While the majority of these trSNPs were found in three genes of the MHC cluster, we also uncovered one coding trSNP (rs12088790) in the gene LAD1. All these trSNPs show clustering of sequences by allele rather than by species and also exhibit other signatures of long-term balancing selection, such as segregating at intermediate frequency and lying in a locus with high genetic diversity. Here we focus on the trSNP in LAD1, a gene that encodes for Ladinin-1, a collagenous anchoring filament protein of basement membrane that is responsible for maintaining cohesion at the dermal-epidermal junction; the gene is also an autoantigen responsible for linear IgA disease. This trSNP results in a missense change (Leucine257Proline) and, besides altering the protein sequence, is associated with changes in gene expression of LAD1.

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