More on the APOL1 story

As I have mentioned before, there are a couple of common mutations of the APOL1 gene ( (G1 and G2) that protect against one strain of sleeping sickness, but unfortunately greatly increase the risk of kidney failure.   The story was unsimple because they didn’t  seem to protect against the other strain of sleeping sickness, the one that’s currently common in  populations carrying G1 and G2. The first guess was that the other strain used to be common there and was replaced by a different strain, somehing like what may have happened in central Africa, where almost everyone is immune to vivax malaria, but you don’t see much vivax there ( instead, falciparum).

A recent publication clarifies things a bit.  First, the two strains of  human sleeping sickness are  Trypanosoma brucei rhodesiense, which causes the acute East African  form, and T.b. gambiense, which causes the more chronic West  African form.

G2 gives strong protection against infection by the East African strain, but appears to increase vulnerability to the West African strain.  G1 doesn’t do much against the East African strain, but allow asymptomatic carriage of the West African strain – better survival, rather than resistance to infection.



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2 Responses to More on the APOL1 story

  1. Smithie says:

    Makes me wonder if Central Americans might have any adaptations against T.cruzi.

  2. Phille says:

    I recently came across the DUF1220 “IQ gene”. What’s your take on that?

    The claim is that it might raise IQ by 3.3 points per copy for one of the DUF1220 clades. But the sample was selected for brain size extremes, hard for me to assess whether that is plausible. One interesting point is that copy numbers can’t be extracted from SNP data, I assume, so all the consumer genomics data would miss this part of the variation.

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