Seminars – Human population genetics – 4 February 2016

EVENT : C3BI Seminars

 Human population genetics: genetic adaptation and epigenetic responses to environmental change

Speaker : Lluis Quintana-Murci, from Human Evolutionary Genetics Unit – Institut Pasteur Time : 02:00 pm Starting Date : 04/02/2016     

Location : Retrovirus room – LWOFF (22), Institut Pasteur, Paris

Human population genetics: genetic adaptation and epigenetic responses to environmental change

Different environmental, demographic and selective forces, together with cultural and social characteristics of human lifestyle, shape the patterns of variability of the human genome at the population level. In particular, infectious diseases have been a major cause of human mortality, so natural selection is expected to act strongly on host defence genes. This is particularly expected for innate immunity genes, as they represent the first line of host defence against pathogens. I will present different cases of how some of these genes and the pathways they trigger have been targeted by natural selection, in its different forms and intensities, helping to delineate genes that are important for host defence, with respect to those exhibiting higher immunological redundancy. I will also discuss how population-specific genetic variation can profoundly impact immune-related molecular phenotypes, such mRNA and miRNA expression upon infection (expression quantitative trait loci – eQTL – mapping), and how these studies increase our understanding of immunological mechanisms under genetic control that have been crucial for our past and present survival against infection. Finally, I will discuss how the differences in lifestyle and habitat of human populations, together with their distinct patterns of genetic diversity, affect the epigenetic landscape of the human genome. Specifically, our studies of populations of African rainforest hunter-gatherers and sedentary farmers show that methylation variation associated with recent changes in habitat mostly involves immune functions, whereas that associated with historical lifestyle primarily affects developmental processes. Our work increases our understanding of whether and how populations are able to respond/adapt to environmental changes, including those related to pathogen pressures, over different time scales.

Due to security policy in Institut Pasteur, please register before if you plan to come to this meeting