Genome-wide identification of susceptibility alleles for viral infections through a population genetics approach

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Viruses have exerted a constant and potent selective pressure on human genes throughout evolution. We utilized the marks left by selection on allele frequency to identify viral infection-associated allelic variants. Virus diversity (the number of different viruses in a geographic region) was used to measure virus-driven selective pressure. Results showed an excess of variants correlated with virus diversity in genes involved in immune response and in the biosynthesis of glycan structures functioning as viral receptors; a significantly higher than expected number of variants was also seen in genes encoding proteins that directly interact with viral components. Genome-wide analyses identified 441 variants significantly associated with virus-diversity; these are more frequently located within gene regions than expected, and they map to 139 human genes. Analysis of functional relationships among genes subjected to virus-driven selective pressure identified a complex network enriched in viral products-interacting proteins. The novel approach to the study of infectious disease epidemiology presented herein may represent an alternative to classic genome-wide association studies and provides a large set of candidate susceptibility variants for viral infections.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere1000849
JournalPLoS Genetics
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2010

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics
  • Molecular Biology
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Cancer Research
  • Genetics(clinical)


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