Understanding rare and common diseases in the context of human evolution

Genome Biol. 2016 Nov 7;17(1):225. doi: 10.1186/s13059-016-1093-y.

Abstract

The wealth of available genetic information is allowing the reconstruction of human demographic and adaptive history. Demography and purifying selection affect the purge of rare, deleterious mutations from the human population, whereas positive and balancing selection can increase the frequency of advantageous variants, improving survival and reproduction in specific environmental conditions. In this review, I discuss how theoretical and empirical population genetics studies, using both modern and ancient DNA data, are a powerful tool for obtaining new insight into the genetic basis of severe disorders and complex disease phenotypes, rare and common, focusing particularly on infectious disease risk.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Demography
  • Disease / genetics*
  • Evolution, Molecular*
  • Genetics, Population*
  • Humans
  • Models, Genetic
  • Mutation
  • Polymorphism, Genetic
  • Selection, Genetic*