Amerindian-Specific Regions Under Positive Selection Harbour New Lipid Variants in Latinos

Arthur Ko et al., Nature, June 2, 2014

Dyslipidemia and obesity are especially prevalent in populations with Amerindian backgrounds, such as Mexican-Americans, which predispose these populations to cardiovascular disease. Here we design an approach, known as the cross-population allele screen (CPAS), which we conduct prior to a genome-wide association study (GWAS) in 19,273 Europeans and Mexicans, in order to identify Amerindian risk genes in Mexicans. Utilizing CPAS to restrict the GWAS input variants to only those differing in frequency between the two populations, we identify novel Amerindian lipid genes, receptor-related orphan receptor alpha (RORA) and salt-inducible kinase 3 (SIK3), and three loci previously unassociated with dyslipidemia or obesity. We also detect lipoprotein lipase (LPL) and apolipoprotein A5 (APOA5) harbouring specific Amerindian signatures of risk variants and haplotypes. Notably, we observe that SIK3 and one novel lipid locus underwent positive selection in Mexicans. Furthermore, after a high-fat meal, the SIK3 risk variant carriers display high triglyceride levels. These findings suggest that Amerindian-specific genetic architecture leads to a higher incidence of dyslipidemia and obesity in modern Mexicans.

[Editor’s Note: The full study is available here.]

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