Genes offering insights into Taiwanese Han health identified: study

Taipei,  A Taipei university has identified five key genes that provide critical insights for understanding the evolutionary history and adaption of the majority Han population in Taiwan and its susceptibility to different diseases.

The five genes identified by National Yang-Ming University (NYMU) were CTNNA2 (Catenin Alpha 2) and LRP1B (LDL Receptor Related Protein 1B) at chromosome 2, CSNK1G3 (Casein Kinase 1 Gamma 3) at chromosome 5, ASTN2 (Astrotactin 2) at chromosome 9, and NEO1 (Neogenin 1) at chromosome 15.

“All five candidate genes identified in our study appear to have [multiple] effects and connections to various disease susceptibilities,” the university said in a press release.

Diseases or complex traits associated with LRP1B variants, for example, include childhood obesity, Alzheimer’s disease, and various types of cancer, the university said.

According to the school, disease susceptibility differs greatly between populations and appears to be correlated with human population history.

“Understanding the genetic ancestry, population substructure, and migration history of people who live in the same geographic region may allow us to better characterize the admixed ancestry for each individual genome, providing critical information to facilitate genome-wide association studies for mapping disease-causing variants,” the school said.

Ko Wen-ya (可文亞), a professor with the Department of Life Sciences and Institute of Genome Sciences at NYMU, said the five genes are linked to metabolic functions and are also related to certain diseases.

The study discusses the possible role of each gene in adaptive evolution and connections with disease susceptibility, Ko said.

“Different ethnic groups have genes inherited from different ancestors,” he said, noting that understanding Taiwan’s unique genetic origin and evolutionary adaptation can better help the country develop its precision medicine (PM) initiative.

Precision medicine is a medical model for customizing health care, with medical decisions, treatments, practices or products being tailored to a subgroup of patients, instead of a one‐drug‐fits‐all model.

The NYMU study titled “Detecting Genetic Ancestry and Adaptation in the Taiwanese Han People” analyzed genetic variations call single-nucleotide polymorphisms from 14,401 ethnic Han people in Taiwan through the Taiwan Biobank and whole-genome sequencing data for a subset of 772 individuals.

The study, conducted in collaboration with Academia Sinica, Mackay Memorial Hospital and the Graduate University for Advanced Studies in Japan, was published online in the peer-reviewed scientific journal Molecular Biology and Evolution in November 2020.


Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel

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