Genetic Chaos

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

The Delta ccr5 mutation conferring protection against HIV-1 in Caucasian populations has a single and recent origin in Northeastern Europe

The chemokine receptor CCR5 is encoded by the CMKBR5 gene located on the p21.3 region of human chromosome 3, and constitutes the major co- receptor for the macrophage-tropic strains of HIV-1. A mutant allele of the CCR5 gene, Delta ccr5 , was shown to provide to homozygotes with a strong resistance against infection by HIV. The frequency of the Delta ccr5 allele was investigated in 18 European populations. A North to South gradient was found, with the highest allele frequencies in Finnish and Mordvinian populations (16%), and the lowest in Sardinia (4%). Highly polymorphic microsatellites (IRI3.1, D3S4579 and IRI3.2, D3S4580 ) located respectively 11 kb upstream and 68 kb downstream of the CCR5 gene deletion were used to determine the haplotype of the chromosomes carrying the Delta ccr5 variant. A strong linkage disequilibrium was found between Delta ccr5 and specific alleles of the IRI3.1 and IRI3.2 microsatellites: >95% of the Delta ccr5 chromosomes carried the IRI3.1-0 allele, while 88% carried the IRI3.2-0 allele. These alleles were found respectively in only 2 or 1.5% of the chromosomes carrying a wild-type CCR5 gene. From these data, it was inferred that most, if not all Delta ccr5 alleles originate from a single mutation event, and that this mutation event probably took place a few thousand years ago in Northeastern Europe. The high frequency of the Delta ccr5 allele in Caucasian populations cannot be explained easily by random genetic drift, suggesting that a selection advantage is or has been associated with homo- or heterozygous carriers of the Delta ccr5 allele.

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Dating the Origin of the CCR5-D32 AIDS-Resistance Allele by the Coalescence of Haplotypes

The CCR5-D32 deletion obliterates the CCR5 chemokine and the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-1 coreceptor on lymphoid cells, leading to strong resistance against HIV-1 infection and AIDS. A genotype survey of 4,166 individuals revealed a cline of CCR5-D32 allele frequencies of 0%-14% across Eurasia, whereas the variant is absent among native African, American Indian, and East Asian ethnic groups. Haplotype analysis of 192 Caucasian chromosomes revealed strong linkage disequilibrium between CCR5 and two microsatellite loci. By use of coalescence theory to interpret modern haplotype genealogy, we estimate the origin of the CCR5-D32 containing ancestral haplotype to be ~700 years ago, with an estimated range of 275-1,875 years. The geographic cline of CCR5-D32 frequencies and its recent emergence are consistent with a historic strong selective event (e.g., an epidemic of a pathogen that, like HIV-1, utilizes CCR5), driving its frequency upward in ancestral Caucasian populations.

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Race-specific HIV-1 disease-modifying effects associated with CCR5 haplotypes

Genetic variation in CC chemokine receptor 5 (CCR5), the major HIV-1 coreceptor, has been shown to influence HIV-1 transmission and disease progression. However, it is generally assumed that the same CCR5 genotype (or haplotype) has similar phenotypic effects in different populations. To test this assumption, we used an evolutionary-based classification of CCR5 haplotypes to determine their associated HIV-1 disease-modifying effects in a large well characterized racially mixed cohort of HIV-1-seropositive individuals. We demonstrate that the spectrum of CCR5 haplotypes associated with disease acceleration or retardation differs between African Americans and Caucasians. Also, we show that there is a strong interactive effect between CCR5 haplotypes with different evolutionary histories. The striking population-specific phenotypic effects associated with CCR5 haplotypes emphasize the importance of understanding the evolutionary context in which disease susceptibility genes are expressed.

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The Use of Intraallelic Variability for Testing Neutrality and Estimating Population Growth Rate

To better understand the forces affecting individual alleles, we introduce a method for finding the joint distribution of the frequency of a neutral allele and the extent of variability at closely linked marker loci (the intraallelic variability). We model three types of intraallelic variability: (a) the number of nonrecombinants at a linked biallelic marker locus, (b) the length of a conserved haplotype, and (c) the number of mutations at a linked marker locus. If the population growth rate is known, the joint distribution provides the basis for a test of neutrality by testing whether the observed level of intraallelic variability is consistent with the observed allele frequency. If the population growth rate is unknown but neutrality can be assumed, the joint distribution provides the likelihood of the growth rate and leads to a maximum-likelihood estimate. We apply the method to data from published data sets for four loci in humans. We conclude that the Delta32 allele at CCR5 and a disease-associated allele at MLH1 arose recently and have been subject to strong selection. Alleles at PAH appear to be neutral and we estimate the recent growth rate of the European population to be ~0.027 per generation with a support interval of (0.017–0.037). Four of the relatively common alleles at CFTR also appear to be neutral but DeltaF508 appears to be significantly advantageous to heterozygous carriers.

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The geographic spread of the CCR5 Delta32 HIV-resistance allele

The Delta32 mutation at the CCR5 locus is a well-studied example of natural selection acting in humans. The mutation is found principally in Europe and western Asia, with higher frequencies generally in the north. Homozygous carriers of the Delta32 mutation are resistant to HIV-1 infection because the mutation prevents functional expression of the CCR5 chemokine receptor normally used by HIV-1 to enter CD4+ T cells. HIV has emerged only recently, but population genetic data strongly suggest Delta32 has been under intense selection for much of its evolutionary history. To understand how selection and dispersal have interacted during the history of the Delta32 allele, we implemented a spatially explicit model of the spread of Delta32. The model includes the effects of sampling, which we show can give rise to local peaks in observed allele frequencies. In addition, we show that with modest gradients in selection intensity, the origin of the Delta32 allele may be relatively far from the current areas of highest allele frequency. The geographic distribution of the Delta32 allele is consistent with previous reports of a strong selective advantage (>10%) for Delta32 carriers and of dispersal over relatively long distances (>100 km/generation). When selection is assumed to be uniform across Europe and western Asia, we find support for a northern European origin and long-range dispersal consistent with the Viking-mediated dispersal of Delta32 proposed by G. Lucotte and G. Mercier. However, when we allow for gradients in selection intensity, we estimate the origin to be outside of northern Europe and selection intensities to be strongest in the northwest. Our results describe the evolutionary history of the Delta32 allele and establish a general methodology for studying the geographic distribution of selected alleles.

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