Evolutionary mutant models for human disease

Trends Genet. 2009 Feb;25(2):74-81. doi: 10.1016/j.tig.2008.11.006. Epub 2008 Dec 26.


Although induced mutations in traditional laboratory animals have been valuable as models for human diseases, they have some important limitations. Here, we propose a complementary approach to discover genes and mechanisms that might contribute to human disorders: the analysis of evolutionary mutant models in which adaptive phenotypes mimic maladaptive human diseases. If the type and mode of action of mutations favored by natural selection in wild populations are similar to those that contribute to human diseases, then studies in evolutionary mutant models have the potential to identify novel genetic factors and gene-by-environment interactions that affect human health and underlie human disease.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Anemia / genetics
  • Animals
  • Bone Diseases, Metabolic / genetics
  • Disease / genetics
  • Disease Models, Animal*
  • Evolution, Molecular*
  • Fishes
  • Humans
  • Mutation*
  • Phenotype