The Legacy of Infectious Disease Exposure on the Genomic Diversity of Indigenous Southern Mexicans

Obed A. Garcia, Kendall Arslanian, Daniel Whorf, Serena Thariath, Mark Shriver, Jun Z. Li, Abigail W. Bigham

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


To characterize host risk factors for infectious disease in Mesoamerican populations, we interrogated 857,481 SNPs assayed using the Affymetrix 6.0 genotyping array for signatures of natural selection in immune response genes. We applied three statistical tests to identify signatures of natural selection: locus-specific branch length (LSBL), the cross-population extended haplotype homozygosity (XP-EHH), and the integrated haplotype score (iHS). Each of the haplotype tests (XP-EHH and iHS) were paired with LSBL and significance was determined at the 1% level. For the paired analyses, we identified 95 statistically significant windows for XP-EHH/LSBL and 63 statistically significant windows for iHS/LSBL. Among our top immune response loci, we found evidence of recent directional selection associated with the major histocompatibility complex (MHC) and the peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor gamma (PPAR-γ) signaling pathway. These findings illustrate that Mesoamerican populations' immunity has been shaped by exposure to infectious disease. As targets of selection, these variants are likely to encode phenotypes that manifest themselves physiologically and therefore may contribute to population-level variation in immune response. Our results shed light on past selective events influencing the host response to modern diseases, both pathogenic infection as well as autoimmune disorders.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalGenome biology and evolution
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 3 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Medicine

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