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Background: During the modern human expansion, new environmental pressures may have driven adaptation, especially in genes related to the perception of ingested substances and their detoxification. Consequently, positive (adaptive) selection may have occurred in genes related to taste, and in those related to the CYP450 system due to its role in biotransformation of potentially toxic compounds. A total of 91 genes (taste receptors and CYP450 superfamily) have been studied using Hierarchical Boosting, a powerful combination of different selection tests, to detect signatures of recent positive selection in three continental human populations: Northern Europeans (CEU), East Asians (CHB) and Africans (YRI). Analyses have been refined with selection analyses of the 26 populations of 1000 Genomes Project Phase 3. Results: Genes related to taste perception have not been positively selected in the three continental human populations. This finding suggests that, contrary to results of previous studies, different allele frequencies among populations in genes such as TAS2R38 and TAS2R16 are not due to positive selection but to genetic drift. CYP1 and CYP2 genes, also previously considered to be under positive selection, did not show signatures of selective sweeps. However, three genes belonging to the CYP450 system have been identified by the Hierarchical Boosting as positively selected: CYP3A4 and CYP3A43 in CEU, and CYP27A1 in CHB. Conclusions: No main adaptive differences are found in known taste receptor genes among the three continental human populations studied. However, there are important genetic adaptations in the cytochrome P450 system related to the Out of Africa expansion of modern humans. We confirmed that CYP3A4 and CYP3A43 are under selection in CEU, and we report for the first time CYP27A1 to be under positive selection in CHB.
Dobon, B., Rossell, C., Walsh, S., & Bertranpetit, J. (2019). Is there adaptation in the human genome for taste perception and phase i biotransformation? BMC Evolutionary Biology, 19(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12862-019-1366-7