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1.  Genetic Affinities of the Central Indian Tribal Populations 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(2):e32546.
Background
The central Indian state Madhya Pradesh is often called as ‘heart of India’ and has always been an important region functioning as a trinexus belt for three major language families (Indo-European, Dravidian and Austroasiatic). There are less detailed genetic studies on the populations inhabited in this region. Therefore, this study is an attempt for extensive characterization of genetic ancestries of three tribal populations, namely; Bharia, Bhil and Sahariya, inhabiting this region using haploid and diploid DNA markers.
Methodology/Principal Findings
Mitochondrial DNA analysis showed high diversity, including some of the older sublineages of M haplogroup and prominent R lineages in all the three tribes. Y-chromosomal biallelic markers revealed high frequency of Austroasiatic-specific M95-O2a haplogroup in Bharia and Sahariya, M82-H1a in Bhil and M17-R1a in Bhil and Sahariya. The results obtained by haploid as well as diploid genetic markers revealed strong genetic affinity of Bharia (a Dravidian speaking tribe) with the Austroasiatic (Munda) group. The gene flow from Austroasiatic group is further confirmed by their Y-STRs haplotype sharing analysis, where we determined their founder haplotype from the North Munda speaking tribe, while, autosomal analysis was largely in concordant with the haploid DNA results.
Conclusions/Significance
Bhil exhibited largely Indo-European specific ancestry, while Sahariya and Bharia showed admixed genetic package of Indo-European and Austroasiatic populations. Hence, in a landscape like India, linguistic label doesn't unequivocally follow the genetic footprints.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0032546
PMCID: PMC3290590  PMID: 22393414
2.  Genome-Wide Gene-Environment Study Identifies Glutamate Receptor Gene GRIN2A as a Parkinson's Disease Modifier Gene via Interaction with Coffee 
PLoS Genetics  2011;7(8):e1002237.
Our aim was to identify genes that influence the inverse association of coffee with the risk of developing Parkinson's disease (PD). We used genome-wide genotype data and lifetime caffeinated-coffee-consumption data on 1,458 persons with PD and 931 without PD from the NeuroGenetics Research Consortium (NGRC), and we performed a genome-wide association and interaction study (GWAIS), testing each SNP's main-effect plus its interaction with coffee, adjusting for sex, age, and two principal components. We then stratified subjects as heavy or light coffee-drinkers and performed genome-wide association study (GWAS) in each group. We replicated the most significant SNP. Finally, we imputed the NGRC dataset, increasing genomic coverage to examine the region of interest in detail. The primary analyses (GWAIS, GWAS, Replication) were performed using genotyped data. In GWAIS, the most significant signal came from rs4998386 and the neighboring SNPs in GRIN2A. GRIN2A encodes an NMDA-glutamate-receptor subunit and regulates excitatory neurotransmission in the brain. Achieving P2df = 10−6, GRIN2A surpassed all known PD susceptibility genes in significance in the GWAIS. In stratified GWAS, the GRIN2A signal was present in heavy coffee-drinkers (OR = 0.43; P = 6×10−7) but not in light coffee-drinkers. The a priori Replication hypothesis that “Among heavy coffee-drinkers, rs4998386_T carriers have lower PD risk than rs4998386_CC carriers” was confirmed: ORReplication = 0.59, PReplication = 10−3; ORPooled = 0.51, PPooled = 7×10−8. Compared to light coffee-drinkers with rs4998386_CC genotype, heavy coffee-drinkers with rs4998386_CC genotype had 18% lower risk (P = 3×10−3), whereas heavy coffee-drinkers with rs4998386_TC genotype had 59% lower risk (P = 6×10−13). Imputation revealed a block of SNPs that achieved P2df<5×10−8 in GWAIS, and OR = 0.41, P = 3×10−8 in heavy coffee-drinkers. This study is proof of concept that inclusion of environmental factors can help identify genes that are missed in GWAS. Both adenosine antagonists (caffeine-like) and glutamate antagonists (GRIN2A-related) are being tested in clinical trials for treatment of PD. GRIN2A may be a useful pharmacogenetic marker for subdividing individuals in clinical trials to determine which medications might work best for which patients.
Author Summary
Parkinson's disease (PD), like most common disorders, involves interactions between genetic make-up and environmental exposures that are unique to each individual. Caffeinated-coffee consumption may protect some people from developing PD, although not all benefit equally. In a genome-wide search, we discovered that variations in the glutamate-receptor gene GRIN2A modulate the risk of developing PD in heavy coffee drinkers. The study was hypothesis-free, that is, we cast a net across the entire genome allowing statistical significance to point us to a genetic variant, regardless of whether it fell in a genomic desert or an important gene. Fortuitously, the most significant finding was in a well-known gene, GRIN2A, which regulates brain signals that control movement and behavior. Our finding is important for three reasons: First, it is a proof of concept that studying genes and environment on the whole-genome scale is feasible, and this approach can identify important genes that are missed when environmental exposures are ignored. Second, the knowledge of interaction between GRIN2A, which is involved in neurotransmission in the brain, and caffeine, which is an adenosine-A2A-receptor antagonist, will stimulate new research towards understanding the cause and progression of PD. Third, the results may lead to personalized prevention of and treatment for PD.
doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.1002237
PMCID: PMC3158052  PMID: 21876681
3.  Traces of sub-Saharan and Middle Eastern lineages in Indian Muslim populations 
Islam is the second most practiced religion in India, next to Hinduism. It is still unclear whether the spread of Islam in India has been only a cultural transformation or is associated with detectable levels of gene flow. To estimate the contribution of West Asian and Arabian admixture to Indian Muslims, we assessed genetic variation in mtDNA, Y-chromosomal and LCT/MCM6 markers in 472, 431 and 476 samples, respectively, representing six Muslim communities from different geographical regions of India. We found that most of the Indian Muslim populations received their major genetic input from geographically close non-Muslim populations. However, low levels of likely sub-Saharan African, Arabian and West Asian admixture were also observed among Indian Muslims in the form of L0a2a2 mtDNA and E1b1b1a and J*(xJ2) Y-chromosomal lineages. The distinction between Iranian and Arabian sources was difficult to make with mtDNA and the Y chromosome, as the estimates were highly correlated because of similar gene pool compositions in the sources. In contrast, the LCT/MCM6 locus, which shows a clear distinction between the two sources, enabled us to rule out significant gene flow from Arabia. Overall, our results support a model according to which the spread of Islam in India was predominantly cultural conversion associated with minor but still detectable levels of gene flow from outside, primarily from Iran and Central Asia, rather than directly from the Arabian Peninsula.
doi:10.1038/ejhg.2009.168
PMCID: PMC2859343  PMID: 19809480
Indian Muslims; mtDNA; Y chromosome; Middle East; sub-Saharan; gene flow
4.  Traces of sub-Saharan and Middle Eastern Lineages in Indian Muslim Populations 
Islam is the second-most practiced religion in India, next to Hinduism. It is still unclear whether the spread of Islam in India has been only a cultural transformation or was associated with detectable levels of gene flow. To estimate the contribution of West Asian and Arabian admixture to Indian Muslims we have assessed genetic variation in mtDNA, Y-chromosomal and LCT/MCM6 markers in 472, 431 and 476 samples, respectively, representing six Muslim communities from different geographical regions of India. We found that most of the Indian Muslim populations received their major genetic input from geographically close non-Muslim populations. However, low levels of likely Arabian and West Asian admixture were also observed among Indian Muslims in the form of L0a2a2 mtDNA and E1b1b1a and J*(xJ2) Y-chromosomal lineages. The distinction between Iranian and Arabian sources was difficult to make with mtDNA and the Y chromosome as the estimates were highly correlated due to similar gene pool compositions in the sources. In contrast, the LCT/MCM6 locus, which shows a clear distinction between the two sources, enabled us to rule out significant gene flow from Arabia. Overall, our results support a model according to which the spread of Islam in India was predominantly cultural conversion associated with minor but still detectable levels of gene flow from outside, primarily from Iran and Central Asia, rather than directly from the Arabian Peninsula.
doi:10.1038/ejhg.2009.168
PMCID: PMC2859343  PMID: 19809480
Indian Muslims; mtDNA; Y chromosome; Middle East; sub-Saharan; gene flow
5.  Deep Rooting In-Situ Expansion of mtDNA Haplogroup R8 in South Asia 
PLoS ONE  2009;4(8):e6545.
Background
The phylogeny of the indigenous Indian-specific mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) haplogroups have been determined and refined in previous reports. Similar to mtDNA superhaplogroups M and N, a profusion of reports are also available for superhaplogroup R. However, there is a dearth of information on South Asian subhaplogroups in particular, including R8. Therefore, we ought to access the genealogy and pre-historic expansion of haplogroup R8 which is considered one of the autochthonous lineages of South Asia.
Methodology/Principal Findings
Upon screening the mtDNA of 5,836 individuals belonging to 104 distinct ethnic populations of the Indian subcontinent, we found 54 individuals with the HVS-I motif that defines the R8 haplogroup. Complete mtDNA sequencing of these 54 individuals revealed two deep-rooted subclades: R8a and R8b. Furthermore, these subclades split into several fine subclades. An isofrequency contour map detected the highest frequency of R8 in the state of Orissa. Spearman's rank correlation analysis suggests significant correlation of R8 occurrence with geography.
Conclusions/Significance
The coalescent age of newly-characterized subclades of R8, R8a (15.4±7.2 Kya) and R8b (25.7±10.2 Kya) indicates that the initial maternal colonization of this haplogroup occurred during the middle and upper Paleolithic period, roughly around 40 to 45 Kya. These results signify that the southern part of Orissa currently inhabited by Munda speakers is likely the origin of these autochthonous maternal deep-rooted haplogroups. Our high-resolution study on the genesis of R8 haplogroup provides ample evidence of its deep-rooted ancestry among the Orissa (Austro-Asiatic) tribes.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0006545
PMCID: PMC2718812  PMID: 19662095

Results 1-5 (5)