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Genetics, adaptation to environmental changes and archaic admixture in the pathogenesis of diabetes mellitus in Indigenous Australians

Abstract

Indigenous Australians are particularly affected by type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2D) due to both their genetic susceptibility and a range of environmental and lifestyle risk factors. Recent genetic studies link predisposition to some diseases, including T2D, to alleles acquired from archaic hominins, such as Neanderthals and Denisovans, which persist in the genomes of modern humans today. Indo-Pacific human populations, including Indigenous Australians, remain extremely underrepresented in genomic research with a paucity of data examining the impact of Denisovan or Neanderthal lineages on human phenotypes in Oceania. The few genetic studies undertaken emphasize the uniqueness and antiquity of Indigenous Australian genomes, with possibly the largest proportion of Denisovan ancestry of any population in the world. In this review, we focus on the potential contributions of ancient genes/pathways to modern human phenotypes, while also highlighting the evolutionary roles of genetic adaptation to dietary and environmental changes associated with an adopted Western lifestyle. We discuss the role of genetic and epigenetic factors in the pathogenesis of T2D in understudied Indigenous Australians, including the potential impact of archaic gene lineages on this disease. Finally, we propose that greater understanding of the underlying genetic predisposition may contribute to the clinical efficacy of diabetes management in Indigenous Australians. We suggest that improved identification of T2D risk variants in Oceania is needed. Such studies promise to clarify how genetic and phenotypic differences vary between populations and, crucially, provide novel targets for personalised medical therapies in currently marginalized groups.

Type Journal
ISBN 1573-2606 (Electronic) 1389-9155 (Linking)
Authors Brzozowska, M. M.; Havula, E.; Allen, R. B.; Cox, M. P.
Responsible Garvan Author Dr Malgorzata (Gosia) Brzozowska
Publisher Name REVIEWS IN ENDOCRINE & METABOLIC DISORDERS
Published Date 2019-09-01
Published Volume 20
Published Issue 3
Published Pages 321-332
Status Published in-print
DOI 10.1007/s11154-019-09505-z
URL link to publisher's version https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/31278514