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1.  Global Footprints of Purifying Selection on Toll-Like Receptor Genes Primarily Associated with Response to Bacterial Infections in Humans 
Genome Biology and Evolution  2014;6(3):551-558.
Toll-like receptors (TLRs) are directly involved in host–pathogen interactions. Polymorphisms in these genes are associated with susceptibility to infectious diseases. To understand the influence of environment and pathogen diversity on the evolution of TLR genes, we have undertaken a large-scale population-genetic study. Our study included two hunter–gatherer tribal populations and one urbanized nontribal population from India with distinct ethnicities (n = 266) and 14 populations inhabiting four different continents (n = 1,092). From the data on DNA sequences of cell-surface TLR genes, we observed an excess of rare variants and a large number of low frequency haplotypes in each gene. Nonsynonymous changes were few in every population and the commonly used statistical tests for detecting natural selection provided evidence of purifying selection. The evidence of purifying selection acting on the cell-surface TLRs of the innate immune system is not consistent with Haldane’s theory of coevolution of immunity genes, at least of innate immunity genes, with pathogens. Our study provides evidence that genes of the cell-surface TLRs, that is, TLR2 and TLR4, have been so optimized to defend the host against microbial infections that new mutations in these genes are quickly eliminated.
PMCID: PMC3971583  PMID: 24554585
innate immune system; Toll-like receptors; purifying selection; evolution; haplotype; Indian populations
2.  Malaria Evolution in South Asia: Knowledge for Control and Elimination 
Acta tropica  2012;121(3):256-266.
The study of malaria parasites on the Indian subcontinent should help us understand unexpected disease outbreaks and unpredictable disease presentations from Plasmodium falciparum and from Plasmodium vivax infections. The Malaria Evolution in South Asia (MESA) research program is one of ten International Centers of Excellence for Malaria Research (ICEMR) sponsored by the US National Institute of Health. In this second of two reviews, we describe why population structures of Plasmodia in India will be characterized and how we will determine their consequences on disease presentation, outcome and patterns. Specific projects will determine if genetic diversity, possibly driven by parasites with higher genetic plasticity, plays a role in changing epidemiology, pathogenesis, vector competence of parasite populations, and whether innate human genetic traits protect Indians from malaria today. Deep local clinical knowledge of malaria in India will be supplemented by basic scientists who bring new research tools. Such tools will include whole genome sequencing and analysis methods; in vitro assays to measure genome plasticity, RBC cytoadhesion, invasion, and deformability; mosquito infectivity assays to evaluate changing parasite-vector compatibilities; and host genetics to understand protective traits in Indian populations. The MESA-ICEMR study sites span diagonally across India, including a mixture of very urban and rural hospitals, each with very different disease patterns and patient populations. Research partnerships include government-associated research institutes, private medical schools, city and state government hospitals, and hospitals with industry ties. Between 2012-2017, in addition to developing clinical research and basic science infrastructure at new clinical sites, our training workshops will engage new scientists and clinicians throughout South Asia in the malaria research field.
PMCID: PMC3894252  PMID: 22266213
malaria; Plasmodium falciparum; Plasmodium vivax; India; South Asia; epidemiology; drug resistance; ICEMR
3.  Malaria in South Asia: Prevalence and control 
Acta tropica  2012;121(3):10.1016/j.actatropica.2012.01.004.
The “Malaria Evolution in South Asia” (MESA) program project is an International Center of Excellence for Malaria Research (ICEMR) sponsored by the US National Institutes of Health. This US–India collaborative program will study the origin of genetic diversity of malaria parasites and their selection on the Indian subcontinent. This knowledge should contribute to a better understanding of unexpected disease outbreaks and unpredictable disease presentations from Plasmodium falciparum and Plasmodium vivax infections. In this first of two reviews, we highlight malaria prevalence in India. In particular, we draw attention to variations in distribution of different human-parasites and different vectors, variation in drug resistance traits, and multiple forms of clinical presentations. Uneven malaria severity in India is often attributed to large discrepancies in health care accessibility as well as human migrations within the country and across neighboring borders. Poor access to health care goes hand in hand with poor reporting from some of the same areas, combining to possibly distort disease prevalence and death from malaria in some parts of India. Corrections are underway in the form of increased resources for disease control, greater engagement of village-level health workers for early diagnosis and treatment, and possibly new public–private partnerships activities accompanying traditional national malaria control programs in the most severely affected areas. A second accompanying review raises the possibility that, beyond uneven health care, evolutionary pressures may alter malaria parasites in ways that contribute to severe disease in India, particularly in the NE corridor of India bordering Myanmar Narayanasamy et al., 2012.
PMCID: PMC3808995  PMID: 22248528
Malaria; Plasmodium falciparum; Plasmodium vivax; India; South Asia; Epidemiology; Drug resistance; ICEMR
4.  Haplotype variation in the ACE gene in global populations, with special reference to India, and an alternative model of evolution of haplotypes 
The HUGO Journal  2011;5(1-4):35-45.
Angiotensin-I-converting enzyme (ACE) is known to be associated with human cardiovascular and psychiatric pathophysiology. We have undertaken a global survey of the haplotypes in ACE gene to study diversity and to draw inferences on the nature of selective forces that may be operating on this gene. We have investigated the haplotype profiles reconstructed using polymorphisms in the regulatory (rs4277405, rs4459609, rs1800764, rs4292, rs4291), exonic (rs4309, rs4331, rs4343), and intronic (rs4340; Alu [I/D]) regions covering 17.8 kb of the ACE gene. We genotyped these polymorphisms in a large number of individuals drawn from 15 Indian ethnic groups and estimated haplotype frequencies. We compared the Indian data with available data from other global populations. Globally, five major haplotypes were observed. High-frequency haplotypes comprising mismatching alleles at the loci considered were seen in all populations. The three most frequent haplotypes among Africans were distinct from the major haplotypes of other world populations. We have studied the evolution of the two major haplotypes (TATATTGIA and CCCTCCADG), one of which contains an Alu insertion (I) and the other a deletion (D), seen most frequently among Caucasians (68%), non-African HapMap populations (65–88%), and Indian populations (70–95%) in detail. The two major haplotypes among Caucasians are reported to represent two distinct clades A and B. Earlier studies have postulated that a third clade C (represented by the haplotypes TACATCADG and TACATCADA) arose from an ancestral recombination event between A and B. We find that a more parsimonious explanation is that clades A and B have arisen by recombination between haplotypes belonging to clade C and a high-frequency African haplotype CCCTTCGIA. The haplotypes, which according to our hypothesis are the putative non-recombinants (PuNR), are uncommon in all non-African populations (frequency range 0–12%). Conversely, the frequencies of the putative recombinant haplotypes (PuR) are very low in the Africans populations (2–8%), indicating that the recombination event is likely to be ancient and arose before, perhaps shortly prior to, the global dispersal of modern humans. The global frequency spectrum of the PuR and the PuNR is difficult to explain only by drift. It appears likely that the ACE gene has been undergoing a combination of different selective pressures.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s11568-011-9153-6) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC3238022  PMID: 23205163
Haplotype diversity; Recombinant; Non-recombinant; Selection
5.  LTBP2 and CYP1B1 mutations and associated ocular phenotypes in the Roma/Gypsy founder population 
Primary congenital glaucoma (PCG) is a genetically heterogeneous autosomal recessive disorder, which is an important cause of blindness in childhood. The first known gene, CYP1B1, accounts for a variable proportion of cases in most populations. A second gene, LTBP2, was recently reported in association with a syndrome, in which glaucoma is secondary to lens dislocation. We report on the molecular and clinical profile of 34 families diagnosed as PCG, all originating from the Roma/Gypsy founder population. Comprehensive sequencing analysis revealed a level of heterogeneity unusual for this population, with five CYP1B1 and one ancestral LTBP2 mutation accounting for ∼70% of patients (25 out of 37) and the remainder still unexplained. Homozygosity for the founder LTBP2 p.R299X mutation resulted in a more severe clinical phenotype and poorer outcome despite a markedly higher number of surgical interventions. The genetically homogeneous group of p.R299X homozygotes showed variable phenotypes (presumably also underlying pathogenetic mechanisms), wherein PCG proper with primary dysgenesis of the trabecular meshwork, and Marfan syndrome-like zonular disease with ectopia lentis and later onset secondary glaucoma are two extremes. The spectrum manifestations may occur in different combinations and have a different evolution even within the same sibship or a single patient. Preliminary observations on compounds with mutations in both CYP1B1-LTBP2 suggest that the observed combinations are of no clinical significance and digenic inheritance is unlikely. We provide a population genetics perspective to explain the allelic heterogeneity, comparing the history and geographic distribution of the two major founder mutations – p.R299X/LTBP2 and p.E387K/CYP1B1.
PMCID: PMC3062003  PMID: 21081970
PCG; LTBP2; CYP1B1; founder population; Gypsies
7.  Separating the post-Glacial coancestry of European and Asian Y chromosomes within haplogroup R1a 
Human Y-chromosome haplogroup structure is largely circumscribed by continental boundaries. One notable exception to this general pattern is the young haplogroup R1a that exhibits post-Glacial coalescent times and relates the paternal ancestry of more than 10% of men in a wide geographic area extending from South Asia to Central East Europe and South Siberia. Its origin and dispersal patterns are poorly understood as no marker has yet been described that would distinguish European R1a chromosomes from Asian. Here we present frequency and haplotype diversity estimates for more than 2000 R1a chromosomes assessed for several newly discovered SNP markers that introduce the onset of informative R1a subdivisions by geography. Marker M434 has a low frequency and a late origin in West Asia bearing witness to recent gene flow over the Arabian Sea. Conversely, marker M458 has a significant frequency in Europe, exceeding 30% in its core area in Eastern Europe and comprising up to 70% of all M17 chromosomes present there. The diversity and frequency profiles of M458 suggest its origin during the early Holocene and a subsequent expansion likely related to a number of prehistoric cultural developments in the region. Its primary frequency and diversity distribution correlates well with some of the major Central and East European river basins where settled farming was established before its spread further eastward. Importantly, the virtual absence of M458 chromosomes outside Europe speaks against substantial patrilineal gene flow from East Europe to Asia, including to India, at least since the mid-Holocene.
PMCID: PMC2987245  PMID: 19888303
Y chromosome; haplogroup R1a; human evolution; population genetics
8.  A Large Study on Immunological Response to a Whole-Cell Killed Oral Cholera Vaccine Reveals That There Are Significant Geographical Differences in Response and That O Blood Group Individuals Do Not Elicit a Higher Response▿ †  
The ABO blood group system has been implicated in susceptibility to cholera or in explaining variability in the immune response to a cholera vaccine. O blood group individuals were found to be more susceptible to cholera and elicited lower vibriocidal antibody response to cholera toxin B subunit-killed oral vaccine. Based on the observations that O blood group individuals were more susceptible to cholera and that high mortality was associated with cholera, an evolutionary explanation was provided for the extremely low prevalence of the O blood group in the Gangetic Delta (West Bengal, India, and Bangladesh). However, conflicting results were reported from a later study conducted in Indonesia using a live attenuated oral cholera vaccine; O blood group individuals showed a higher vibriocidal antibody response. In a study conducted in a region of India where cholera is endemic (Kolkata, West Bengal) that comprised 992 individuals vaccinated by a killed whole-cell oral cholera vaccine, we found no statistically significant difference between O and non-O individuals either in the frequency distributions of the fold increase or in the postvaccination increase in geometric mean titer compared to the baseline. Further, in contrast to the earlier observation that the O allele frequency is extremely low in the Gangetic Delta, we have noted that the O allele frequency exceeds 0.5 in the vast majority of ethnic groups of this region. In addition, we have found large differences in response to the vaccine among residents of an area where cholera is not endemic compared to an area where cholera is endemic to The percentages of vaccinees who seroconverted in an area where cholera is not endemic (Son La province of Vietnam) was >90% compared to ∼50% in Kolkata, India, an area where cholera is endemic.
PMCID: PMC2916244  PMID: 20554804
9.  Genetic determinants of immune-response to a polysaccharide vaccine for typhoid 
The HUGO Journal  2010;3(1-4):17-30.
Differences in immunological response among vaccine recipients are determined both by their genetic differences and environmental factors. Knowledge of genetic determinants of immunological response to a vaccine can be used to design a vaccine that circumvents immunogenetic restrictions. The currently available vaccine for typhoid is a pure polysaccharide vaccine, immune response to which is T-cell independent. Little is known about whether genetic variation among vaccinees associates with variation in their antibody response to a polysaccharide vaccine. We conducted a study on 1,000 individuals resident in an area at high-risk for typhoid; vaccinated them with the typhoid vaccine, measured their antibody response to the vaccine, assayed >2,000 curated SNPs chosen from 283 genes that are known to participate in immune-response; and analyzed these data using a strategy to (a) minimize the statistical problems associated with testing of multiple hypotheses, and (b) internally cross-validate inferences, using a half-sample design, with little loss of statistical power. The first stage analysis, using the first half-sample, identified 54 SNPs in 43 genes to be significantly associated with immune response. In the second-stage, these inferences were cross-validated using the second half-sample. First-stage results of only 8 SNPs (out of 54) in 7 genes (out of 43) were cross-validated. We tested additional SNPs in these 7 genes, and found 8 more SNPs to be significantly associated. Haplotypes constructed with these SNPs in these 7 genes also showed significant association. These 7 genes are DEFB1, TLR1, IL1RL1, CTLA4, MAPK8, CD86 and IL17D. The overall picture that has emerged from this study is that (a) immune response to polysaccharide antigens is qualitatively different from that to protein antigens, and (b) polymorphisms in genes involved in polysaccharide recognition, signal transduction, inhibition of T-cell proliferation, pro-inflammatory signaling and eventual production of antimicrobial peptides are associated with antibody response to the polysaccharide vaccine for typhoid.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s11568-010-9134-1) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC2882648  PMID: 21119757
Polysaccharide antigen; Antibody; Immune system; Half-sample design; Single nucleotide polymorphism; Association; Non-cognate T-cell
10.  Development of a Bead Immunoassay To Measure Vi Polysaccharide-Specific Serum IgG after Vaccination with the Salmonella enterica Serovar Typhi Vi Polysaccharide ▿  
Vi polysaccharide from Salmonella enterica serotype Typhi is used as one of the available vaccines to prevent typhoid fever. Measurement of Vi-specific serum antibodies after vaccination with Vi polysaccharide by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) may be complicated due to poor binding of the Vi polysaccharide to ELISA plates resulting in poor reproducibility of measured antibody responses. We chemically conjugated Vi polysaccharide to fluorescent beads and performed studies to determine if a bead-based immunoassay provided a reproducible method to measure vaccine-induced anti-Vi serum IgG antibodies. Compared to ELISA, the Vi bead immunoassay had a lower background and therefore a greater signal-to-noise ratio. The Vi bead immunoassay was used to evaluate serum anti-Vi IgG in 996 subjects from the city of Kolkata, India, before and after vaccination. Due to the location being one where Salmonella serotype Typhi is endemic, approximately 45% of the subjects had protective levels of anti-Vi serum IgG (i.e., 1 μg/ml anti-Vi IgG) before vaccination, and nearly 98% of the subjects had protective levels of anti-Vi serum IgG after vaccination. Our results demonstrate that a bead-based immunoassay provides an effective, reproducible method to measure serum anti-Vi IgG responses before and after vaccination with the Vi polysaccharide vaccine.
PMCID: PMC2837971  PMID: 20107010
11.  Genetic variation and haplotype structures of innate immunity genes in eastern India 
This study reports results of an extensive and comprehensive study of genetic diversity in 12 genes of the innate immune system in a population of eastern India. Genomic variation was assayed in 171 individuals by resequencing ~75 kb of DNA comprising these genes in each individual. Almost half of the 548 DNA variants discovered was novel. DNA sequence comparisons with human and chimpanzee reference sequences revealed evolutionary features indicative of natural selection operating among individuals, who are residents of an area with a high load of microbial and other pathogens. Significant differences in allele and haplotype frequencies of the study population were observed with the HapMap populations. Gene and haplotype diversities were observed to be high. The genetic positioning of the study population among the HapMap populations based on data of the innate immunity genes substantially differed from what has been observed for Indian populations based on data of other genes. The reported range of variation in SNP density in the human genome is one SNP per 1.19 kb (chromosome 22) to one SNP per 2.18 kb (chromosome 19). The SNP density in innate immunity genes observed in this study (>3 SNPs kb−1) exceeds the highest density observed for any autosomal chromosome in the human genome. The extensive genomic variation and the distinct haplotype structure of innate immunity genes observed among individuals have possibly resulted from the impact of natural selection.
PMCID: PMC2762703  PMID: 18396467
Host; Pathogen; Evolution; DNA resequencing; Single nucleotide polymorphism; Haplotype; Genome diversity
12.  A nonparametric regression-based linkage scan of rheumatoid factor-IgM using sib-pair squared sums and differences 
BMC Proceedings  2007;1(Suppl 1):S99.
Parametric linkage methods for quantitative trait locus mapping require explicit specification of the probability model of the quantitative trait and hence can lead to misleading linkage inferences when the model assumptions are not valid. Ghosh and Majumder developed a nonparametric regression method based on kernel-smoothing for linkage mapping of quantitative trait locus using squared differences in trait values of independent sib pairs, which is relatively more robust than parametric methods with respect to violations in distributional assumptions. In this study, we modify the above mentioned nonparametric regression method by considering local linear polynomials instead of the Nadaraya-Watson estimator and squared sums of sib-pair trait values in addition to squared differences to perform a genome-wide scan of rheumatoid factor-IgM levels on sib pairs in the Genetic Analysis Workshop 15 simulated data set. We obtain significant evidence of linkage very close to the quantitative trait locus controlling for RF-IgM. We find that the simultaneous use of squared differences and squared sums increases the power to detect linkage compared to using only squared differences. However, because of all the sib pairs are selected for rheumatoid arthritis, there is reduced variance of RF-IgM values, and empirical power to detect linkage is not very high. We also compare the performance of our method with two linear regression approaches: the classical Haseman-Elston method using squared sib-pair trait differences and its extension proposed by Elston et al. using mean-corrected sib-pair cross-products. We find that the proposed nonparametric method yields more power than the linear regression approaches.
PMCID: PMC2359867  PMID: 18466603
13.  Linkage mapping of a complex trait in the New York population of the GAW14 simulated dataset: a multivariate phenotype approach 
BMC Genetics  2005;6(Suppl 1):S19.
Multivariate phenotypes underlie complex traits. Thus, instead of using the end-point trait, it may be statistically more powerful to use a multivariate phenotype correlated to the end-point trait for detecting linkage. In this study, we develop a reverse regression method to analyze linkage of Kofendrerd Personality Disorder affection status in the New York population of the Genetic Analysis Workshop 14 (GAW14) simulated dataset. When we used the multivariate phenotype, we obtained significant evidence of linkage near four of the six putative loci in at least 25% of the replicates. On the other hand, the linkage analysis based on Kofendrerd Personality Disorder status as a phenotype produced significant findings only near two of the loci and in a smaller proportion of replicates.
PMCID: PMC1866768  PMID: 16451627
14.  Mapping quantitative trait loci in humans: achievements and limitations 
Journal of Clinical Investigation  2005;115(6):1419-1424.
Recent advances in statistical methods and genomic technologies have ushered in a new era in mapping clinically important quantitative traits. However, many refinements and novel statistical approaches are required to enable greater successes in this mapping. The possible impact of recent findings pertaining to the structure of the human genome on efforts to map quantitative traits is yet unclear.
PMCID: PMC1137003  PMID: 15931376

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