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Risk Alleles for Type 2 Diabetes in Sea Islanders and Evolutionary Lag: A Comparative Analysis (2016)

Seed Grant in Social and Biological Determinants of Health

Organizers are Kyle Summers, Keith Keene, and Toyin Babatunde, East Carolina University. Type 2 diabetes (T2DM) is increasing globally, and affects some ethnic and racial groups differently. Some evidence indicates that these differences may be affected by different patterns of refined carbohydrate consumption across human history. Populations that were not exposed to diets high in refined carbohydrates until recently may be more susceptible to T2DM when exposed to these diets. This is known as evolutionary lag, and may explain some of the genetic variation associated with susceptibility to T2DM. We propose to test this hypothesis by comparing the genetic variation in genes associated with T2DM risk in an island-dwelling African American population (the Sea Islanders) to West African populations, to search for evidence of natural selection on these genes in the Sea Islanders. This can provide insights into the causes of variation in susceptibility to T2DM, and guide research aimed at curing this disease.



Arthur A, Terman A, Kurzontkowski C, et al. (2018). Molecular evolution of genes associated with preeclampsia: genetic conflict, antagonistic coevolution and signals of selectionJournal of Evolutionary Medicine 6: 236038.

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