Rewriting Human History and Empowering Indigenous Communities with Genome Editing Tools

Genes (Basel). 2020 Jan 12;11(1):88. doi: 10.3390/genes11010088.


Appropriate empirical-based evidence and detailed theoretical considerations should be used for evolutionary explanations of phenotypic variation observed in the field of human population genetics (especially Indigenous populations). Investigators within the population genetics community frequently overlook the importance of these criteria when associating observed phenotypic variation with evolutionary explanations. A functional investigation of population-specific variation using cutting-edge genome editing tools has the potential to empower the population genetics community by holding "just-so" evolutionary explanations accountable. Here, we detail currently available precision genome editing tools and methods, with a particular emphasis on base editing, that can be applied to functionally investigate population-specific point mutations. We use the recent identification of thrifty mutations in the CREBRF gene as an example of the current dire need for an alliance between the fields of population genetics and genome editing.

Keywords: base editing; functional genomics; population genetics; signatures of natural selection.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Evolution, Molecular*
  • Gene Editing*
  • Genetic Variation*
  • Genetics, Population*
  • Human Genetics*
  • Humans