Genetic variation in PTPN1 contributes to metabolic adaptation to high-altitude hypoxia in Tibetan migratory locusts

Nat Commun. 2018 Nov 26;9(1):4991. doi: 10.1038/s41467-018-07529-8.


Animal and human highlanders have evolved distinct traits to enhance tissue oxygen delivery and utilization. Unlike vertebrates, insects use their tracheal system for efficient oxygen delivery. However, the genetic basis of insect adaptation to high-altitude hypoxia remains unexplored. Here, we report a potential mechanism of metabolic adaptation of migratory locusts in the Tibetan Plateau, through whole-genome resequencing and functional investigation. A genome-wide scan revealed that the positively selected genes in Tibetan locusts are predominantly involved in carbon and energy metabolism. We observed a notable signal of natural selection in the gene PTPN1, which encodes PTP1B, an inhibitor of insulin signaling pathway. We show that a PTPN1 coding mutation regulates the metabolism of Tibetan locusts by mediating insulin signaling activity in response to hypoxia. Overall, our findings provide evidence for the high-altitude hypoxia adaptation of insects at the genomic level and explore a potential regulatory mechanism underlying the evolved metabolic homeostasis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Physiological / genetics*
  • Altitude Sickness / genetics*
  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Animal Migration / physiology*
  • Animals
  • Energy Metabolism / genetics
  • Genetic Variation*
  • Genome, Insect
  • Grasshoppers / genetics*
  • Grasshoppers / physiology*
  • Hypoxia / genetics*
  • Insulin / metabolism
  • Mutation / genetics
  • Phylogeny
  • Polymorphism, Single Nucleotide / genetics
  • Protein Tyrosine Phosphatase, Non-Receptor Type 1 / chemistry
  • Protein Tyrosine Phosphatase, Non-Receptor Type 1 / genetics*
  • Selection, Genetic
  • Signal Transduction
  • Tibet


  • Insulin
  • Protein Tyrosine Phosphatase, Non-Receptor Type 1