Cladistic approaches to identifying determinants of variability in multifactorial phenotypes and the evolutionary significance of variation in the human genome

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Genetic surveys based on detailed restriction site mapping or DNA sequencing allow one to identify many different classes of mutational change at the molecular level and to estimate the evolutionary history of the genetic variation (a haplotype tree). These two sources of information can be combined in a powerful fashion to test hypotheses about the evolutionary significance of genetic variation and to identify mutations that are associated with diseases. Hypotheses about selection on various classes of genetic variation can be tested by examining the distribution patterns of different mutational classes upon the haplotype tree. The power of this procedure can be enhanced if it is coupled with comparative data from other, closely related species. With respect to disease associations, all mutations that affect phenotypic variation in a population occurred at some point in the evolutionary history of the region of the gene containing the mutations. Even if this evolutionary history is estimated from mutations other than those causing phenotypic effects, the phenotypically important mutations are imbedded in this same evolutionary history. Hence, whole branches (clades) of the haplotype tree should display homogeneous phenotypic effects and this fact is utilized to search for phenotypic associations of haplotypes by using nested clades in a haplotype tree. This procedure has more power than alternatives that do not use evolutionary history, and it avoids several statistical and interpretative problems associated with single-marker analyses. All of these methods could be used more extensively if more human genetic surveys concentrated on greater genetic resolution in small DNA regions and included non-human apes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)259-283
Number of pages25
JournalCIBA Foundation Symposia
Issue number197
StatePublished - 1996
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General

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