The phenotypic legacy of admixture between modern humans and Neandertals.


Simonti CN, Vernot B, Bastarache L, Bottinger E, Carrell DS, Chisholm RL, Crosslin DR, Hebbring SJ, Jarvik GP, Kullo IJ, Li R, Pathak J, Ritchie MD, Roden DM, Verma SS, Tromp G, Prato JD, Bush WS, Akey JM, Denny JC, Capra JA,.

Many modern human genomes retain DNA inherited from interbreeding with archaic hominins, such as Neandertals, yet the influence of this admixture on human traits is largely unknown. We analyzed the contribution of common Neandertal variants to over 1000 electronic health record (EHR)-derived phenotypes in 28,000 adults of European ancestry. We discovered and replicated associations of Neandertal alleles with neurological, psychiatric, immunological, and dermatological phenotypes. Neandertal alleles together explained a significant fraction of the variation in risk for depression and skin lesions resulting from sun exposure (actinic keratosis), and individual Neandertal alleles were significantly associated with specific human phenotypes, including hypercoagulation and tobacco use. Our results establish that archaic admixture influences disease risk in modern humans, provide hypotheses about the effects of hundreds of Neandertal haplotypes, and demonstrate the utility of EHR data in evolutionary analyses.

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Will Bush

Will Bush

William S. Bush, Ph.D., is a human geneticist and bioinformatician, and Assistant Professor within the Institute for Computational Biology and the Department of Population and Quantitative Health Sciences at Case Western Reserve University.