Obesity is a complex and multifactorial disease that occurs as a result of the interaction between "obesogenic" environmental factors and genetic components. Although the genetic component of obesity is clear from the heritability studies, the genetic basis remains largely elusive. Successes have been achieved in identifying the causal genes for monogenic obesity using animal models and linkage studies, but these approaches are not fruitful for polygenic obesity. The developments of genome-wide association approach have brought breakthrough discovery of genetic variants for polygenic obesity where tens of new susceptibility loci were identified. However, the common SNPs only accounted for a proportion of heritability. The arrival of NGS technologies and completion of 1000 Genomes Project have brought other new methods to dissect the genetic architecture of obesity, for example, the use of exome genotyping arrays and deep sequencing of candidate loci identified from GWAS to study rare variants. In this review, we summarize and discuss the developments of these genetic approaches in human obesity.
The indigenous populations from Peninsular Malaysia, locally known as Orang Asli, continue to adopt an agro-subsistence nomadic lifestyle, residing primarily within natural jungle habitats. Leading a hunter-gatherer lifestyle in a tropical jungle environment, the Orang Asli are routinely exposed to malaria. Here we surveyed the genetic architecture of individuals from four Orang Asli tribes with high-density genotyping across more than 2.5 million polymorphisms. These tribes reside in different geographical locations in Peninsular Malaysia and belong to three main ethno-linguistic groups, where there is minimal interaction between the tribes. We first dissect the genetic diversity and admixture between the tribes and with neighboring urban populations. Later, by implementing five metrics, we investigated the genome-wide signatures for positive natural selection of these Orang Asli, respectively. Finally, we searched for evidence of genomic adaptation to the pressure of malaria infection. We observed that different evolutionary responses might have emerged in the different Orang Asli communities to mitigate malaria infection.
Peninsular Malaysia is a strategic region which might have played an important role in the initial peopling and subsequent human migrations in Asia. However, the genetic diversity and history of human populations--especially indigenous populations--inhabiting this area remain poorly understood. Here, we conducted a genome-wide study using over 900,000 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in four major Malaysian ethnic groups (MEGs; Malay, Proto-Malay, Senoi and Negrito), and made comparisons of 17 world-wide populations. Our data revealed that Peninsular Malaysia has greater genetic diversity corresponding to its role as a contact zone of both early and recent human migrations in Asia. However, each single Orang Asli (indigenous) group was less diverse with a smaller effective population size (N(e)) than a European or an East Asian population, indicating a substantial isolation of some duration for these groups. All four MEGs were genetically more similar to Asian populations than to other continental groups, and the divergence time between MEGs and East Asian populations (12,000--6,000 years ago) was also much shorter than that between East Asians and Europeans. Thus, Malaysian Orang Asli groups, despite their significantly different features, may share a common origin with the other Asian groups. Nevertheless, we identified traces of recent gene flow from non-Asians to MEGs. Finally, natural selection signatures were detected in a batch of genes associated with immune response, human height, skin pigmentation, hair and facial morphology and blood pressure in MEGs. Notable examples include SYN3 which is associated with human height in all Orang Asli groups, a height-related gene (PNPT1) and two blood pressure-related genes (CDH13 and PAX5) in Negritos. We conclude that a long isolation period, subsequent gene flow and local adaptations have jointly shaped the genetic architectures of MEGs, and this study provides insight into the peopling and human migration history in Southeast Asia.
High-frequency action potentials are mediated by voltage-gated sodium channels, composed of one large α subunit and two small β subunits, encoded mainly by SCN1A, SCN2A, SCN3A, SCN1B, and SCN2B genes in the brain. These play a key role in epilepsy, with the most commonly mutated gene in epilepsy being SCN1A. We examined whether polymorphisms in the above genes affect epilepsy risk in 1,529 epilepsy patients and 1,935 controls from four ethnicities or locations: Malay, Indian, and Chinese, all from Malaysia, and Chinese from Hong Kong. Of patients, 19 % were idiopathic, 42 % symptomatic, and 40 % cryptogenic. We genotyped 43 polymorphisms: 27 in Hong Kong, 28 in Malaysia, and 12 in both locations. The strongest association with epilepsy was rs3812718, or SCN1A IVS5N+5G>A: odds ratio (OR) = 0.85 for allele G (p = 0.0009) and 0.73 for genotype GG versus AA (p = 0.003). The OR was between 0.76 and 0.87 for all ethnicities. Meta-analysis confirmed the association (OR = 0.81 and p = 0.002 for G, and OR = 0.67 and p = 0.007 for GG versus AA), which appeared particularly strong for Indians and for febrile seizures. Allele G affects splicing and speeds recovery from inactivation. Since SCN1A is preferentially expressed in inhibitory neurons, G may decrease epilepsy risk. SCN1A rs10188577 displayed OR = 1.20 for allele C (p = 0.003); SCN2A rs12467383 had OR = 1.16 for allele A (p = 0.01), and displayed linkage disequilibrium with rs2082366 (r (2) = 0.67), whose genotypes tended toward association with SCN2A brain expression (p = 0.10). SCN1A rs2298771 was associated in Indians (OR = 0.56, p = 0.005) and SCN2B rs602594 with idiopathic epilepsy (OR = 0.62, p = 0.002). Therefore, sodium channel polymorphisms are associated with epilepsy.
There has been a long-standing debate concerning the extent to which the spread of Neolithic ceramics and Malay-Polynesian languages in Island Southeast Asia (ISEA) were coupled to an agriculturally driven demic dispersal out of Taiwan 4000 years ago (4 ka). We previously addressed this question using founder analysis of mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) control-region sequences to identify major lineage clusters most likely to have dispersed from Taiwan into ISEA, proposing that the dispersal had a relatively minor impact on the extant genetic structure of ISEA, and that the role of agriculture in the expansion of the Austronesian languages was therefore likely to have been correspondingly minor. Here we test these conclusions by sequencing whole mtDNAs from across Taiwan and ISEA, using their higher chronological precision to resolve the overall proportion that participated in the "out-of-Taiwan" mid-Holocene dispersal as opposed to earlier, postglacial expansions in the Early Holocene. We show that, in total, about 20 % of mtDNA lineages in the modern ISEA pool result from the "out-of-Taiwan" dispersal, with most of the remainder signifying earlier processes, mainly due to sea-level rises after the Last Glacial Maximum. Notably, we show that every one of these founder clusters previously entered Taiwan from China, 6-7 ka, where rice-farming originated, and remained distinct from the indigenous Taiwanese population until after the subsequent dispersal into ISEA.
There are two very different interpretations of the prehistory of Island Southeast Asia (ISEA), with genetic evidence invoked in support of both. The "out-of-Taiwan" model proposes a major Late Holocene expansion of Neolithic Austronesian speakers from Taiwan. An alternative, proposing that Late Glacial/postglacial sea-level rises triggered largely autochthonous dispersals, accounts for some otherwise enigmatic genetic patterns, but fails to explain the Austronesian language dispersal. Combining mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA), Y-chromosome and genome-wide data, we performed the most comprehensive analysis of the region to date, obtaining highly consistent results across all three systems and allowing us to reconcile the models. We infer a primarily common ancestry for Taiwan/ISEA populations established before the Neolithic, but also detected clear signals of two minor Late Holocene migrations, probably representing Neolithic input from both Mainland Southeast Asia and South China, via Taiwan. This latter may therefore have mediated the Austronesian language dispersal, implying small-scale migration and language shift rather than large-scale expansion.
The adiponutrin (PNPLA3) rs738409 polymorphism has been found to be associated with susceptibility to non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) in various cohorts. We further investigated the association of this polymorphism with non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) severity and with histological features of NAFLD. A total of 144 biopsy-proven NAFLD patients and 198 controls were genotyped for PNPLA3 gene polymorphism (rs738409 C>G). The biopsy specimens were histologically graded by a qualified pathologist. We observed an association of G allele with susceptibility to NAFLD in the pooled subjects (OR 2.34, 95% CI 1.69-3.24, p < 0.0001), and following stratification, in each of the three ethnic subgroups, namely Chinese, Indian and Malay (OR 1.94, 95% CI 1.12-3.37, p = 0.018; OR 3.51, 95% CI 1.69-7.26, p = 0.001 and OR 2.05, 95% CI 1.25-3.35, p = 0.005, respectively). The G allele is associated with susceptibility to NASH (OR 2.64, 95% CI 1.85-3.75, p < 0.0001), with NASH severity (OR 1.85, 95% CI 1.05-3.26, p = 0.035) and with presence of fibrosis (OR 1.95, 95% CI 1.17-3.26, p = 0.013) but not with simple steatosis nor with other histological parameters. Although the serum triglyceride level is significantly higher in NAFLD patients compared to controls, the G allele is associated with decreased level of triglycerides (p = 0.029) in the NAFLD patients. Overall, the rs738409 G allele is associated with severity of NASH and occurrence of fibrosis in patients with NAFLD.
Amelogenin paralogs on Chromosome X (AMELX) and Y (AMELY) are commonly used sexing markers. Interstitial deletion of Yp involving the AMELY locus has previously been reported. The combined frequency of the AMELY null allele in Singapore and Malaysia populations is 2.7%, 0.6% in Indian and Malay ethnic groups respectively. It is absent among 541 Chinese screened. The null allele in this study belongs to 3 Y haplogroups; J2e1 (85.7%), F* (9.5%) and D* (4.8%). Low and high-resolution STS mapping, followed by sequence analysis of breakpoint junction confirmed a large deletion of 3 to 3.7-Mb located at the Yp11.2 region. Both breakpoints were located in TSPY repeat arrays, suggesting a non-allelic homologous recombination (NAHR) mechanism of deletion. All regional null samples shared identical breakpoint sequences according to their haplogroup affiliation, providing molecular evidence of a common ancestry origin for each haplogroup, and at least 3 independent deletion events recurred in history. The estimated ages based on Y-SNP and STR analysis were approximately 13.5 +/- 3.1 kyears and approximately 0.9 +/- 0.9 kyears for the J2e1 and F* mutations, respectively. A novel polymorphism G > A at Y-GATA-H4 locus in complete linkage disequilibrium with J2e1 null mutations is a more recent event. This work re-emphasizes the need to include other sexing markers for gender determination in certain regional populations. The frequency difference among global populations suggests it constitutes another structural variation locus of human chromosome Y. The breakpoint sequences provide further information to a better understanding of the NAHR mechanism and DNA rearrangements due to higher order genomic architecture.
Malays, Chinese, and Indians from Peninsular Malaysia; Ibans and Bidayuh from Sarawak State; Kadazans from Sabah State, Northern Borneo; and Bataks, Minangkabau, and Javanese from North Sumatra, Indonesia, were subtyped for transferrin C by polyacrylamide gel isoelectric focusing. All nine populations studied are polymorphic for two alleles, TfCl and TfC2, TfC3 was polymorphic in six populations and present as a rare variant in the other three. The frequency of TfC1 ranged from 0.855 in Bidayuh to 0.711 in Javanese, that of TfC2 from 0.231 in Indians to 0.113 in Bidayuh, and that of TfC3 from 0.030 in Javanese and Chinese to 0.008 in Bidayuh. TfDchi is polymorphic in all the populations that we studied except in Minangkabau, in whom it is present as a rare variant, and in Indians, in whom it is absent.
Hereditary ovalocytosis/elliptocytosis occurs in polymorphic frequencies among several Malaysian populations and also in Melanesia. Although the condition has been described as an autosomal dominant, Melanesian family studies suggest that it is inherited recessively. Based on 75 Orang Asli families, it is shown that the Malaysian form of elliptocytosis is most likely inherited as an autosomal dominant. It appears, therefore, that either the inference of recessive inheritance in Melanesians is incorrect or that the ovalocytosis/elliptocytosis phenotypes are due to distinct genetic entities in the two regions.
Three human saliva genetic markers, namely, salivary peroxidase (SAPX), Pm, and Ph proteins, were investigated in the three major ethnic groups of Malaysia: Malays, Chinese, and Indians. For Pm, the allelic frequencies of Pm+ for Malays, Chinese, and Indians are 0.385 +/- 0.030, 0.282 +/- 0.026, and 0.289 +/- 0.026 respectively. For Ph, the allelic frequencies of Ph+ are 0.082 +/- 0.016 for Malays, 0.109 +/- 0.017 for Chinese, and 0.062 +/- 0.013 for Indians. For SAPX, the allelic frequencies of SAPX1 in Malays, Chinese, and Indians are 0.762 +/- 0.027, 0.755 +/- 0.027, and 0.723 +/- 0.026 respectively.
A rare electrophoretic variant of superoxide dismutase (SOD) was found in one Filipino of 146 Filipinos, 1382 Malaysians and 816 Indonesians examined. The variant consists of two usual bands and two slower migrating bands similar to those reported earlier. Superoxide dismutase variants are common among people of certain localized regions in Europe, however, this is the first report of such a variant occurring in people of non-European origin.
It has been reported that studies of the genetic consequences of inbreeding should adopt a different strategy in populations having a relatively old inbreeding history and where inbreeding levels have varied over time. This contention is tested with a series of 39,495 single-birth records from Bombay, India, collected in a World Health Organization survey on congenital malformations. Our analysis reveals that: 1. the incidence of major malformations is significantly higher among the inbred offspring (1.34%) as compared to that among non-inbred ones (0,81%)--a finding at variance with a previous study in the same area; 2. the inbreeding effect on perinatal mortality (stillbirths and mortality during the first few days of life) is also found to be significant. In view of the above findings, the genetic load as disclosed by inbreeding is computed for perinatal mortality, major malformations and pooling these together. A + B, the measure of the number of lethal equivalents per gamete, is found to be at variance with other reports. Such variability can be ascribed to non-genetic factors. Supporting evidence collected from Brazil and Malaysia in the same survey is also presented.
Most of the population in certain areas of Melanesia have one alpha-globin gene deletion (alpha thal2). It is thought that the high frequencies of alpha thal2 in this population is due to a selective advantage given by malaria infection to carriers of alpha thal2. We are interested in neighboring Polynesia which, although adjacent to Melanesia, has always been free of malaria due to the absence of the vector anopheles. We studied 60 Polynesian Samoans and 150 Malaysians by restriction endonuclease gene mapping using Eco RI, Bam HI, and Bgl II and hybridization to 32P-labeled alpha-globin gene probe. Seven among the 60 (11.7%) Samoans had triplicated alpha-globin loci type 1, while none had alpha thal2. On digestion with Bgl II the third alpha-globin gene was found in an additional 3.7 kb fragment in all seven Samoans with triplicated alpha-globin loci, while digestion with Bam HI produced an abnormal elongated 18.2 kb fragment carrying alpha-globin genes in addition to the normal 14.5 kb fragment. None of the Polynesian Samoans had alpha thal2 or alpha thal1. Only two of the Malaysians had triplicated alpha-globin loci.
Malays, Chinese and Indians from peninsular Malaysia; Ibans and Bidayuh from Sarawak state, Northern Borneo; and Bataks, Minangkabau and Javanese from North Sumatra, Indonesia, were subtyped for Gc (group-specific component) by polyacrylamide gel isoelectric focusing. All eight populations investigated were found to be polymorphic for three common alleles, Gc1F, Gc1S and Gc2.
Kadazans, the largest indigenous group in Sabah, northern Borneo, were surveyed for glyoxalase I, phosphoglucomutase I, red cell acid phosphatase, esterase D, adenosine deaminase, soluble glutamate pyruvate transaminase, soluble glutamate oxaloacetate transaminase, 6-phosphogluconate dehydrogenase, uridine monophosphate kinase, adenylate kinase, peptidase B and D, superoxide dismutase, C5, group specific component, haptoglobin and transferrin. Kadazans were found to be polymorphic for GLO I, PGM I, RCAP, esterase D, ADA, s-Gpt, 6PGD, UMPK, Gc, C5, haptoglobin and peptidase B. Rare variants were found for transferrin and peptidase D. No variant was found for s-Got, SOD and AK.
Malaysians of Malay, Chinese, and Indian ancestries were electrophoretically phenotyped for Amy1 and saliva esterase region 1 (Set-1) from saliva, Amy2 from plasma, soluble and mitochondrial GOT and PGM3 from leukocyte and placenta. Kadazans and Bajaus, the indigenous people of Sabah, East Malaysia were surveyed for Amy2. Three types of variants were observed for Amy1, one type for Amy2. Only Indians were found to be polymorphic for Amy1. Two GOTs 2-1 and three GOTm 2-1 variants were found among 281 Chinese while three GOTm 2-1 variants were found among 311 Malays. Malaysian Malays, Chinese, and Indians were found to be polymorphic for Set-1 and PGM3. The gene frequencies in Malays are Set-1F=0.601 +/- 0.021, Set-1S = 0.399 +/- 0.021; PGM13 = 0.788 +/- 0.020, PGM23 = 0.212 +/- 0.020; in Chinese Set-1F = 0.497 +/- 0.028, Set-1S = 0.503 +/- 0.028; PGM13 = 0.745 +/- 0.24, PGM23 = 0.255 +/- 0.024; in Indians, Set-1F = 0.449 +/- 0.031, Set-1S = 0.551 +/- 0.031; PGM13 = 0.755 +/- 0.029, PGM23 = 0.245 +/- 0.029.