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Blood Group Variation in Non-human Primates at the Duffy Locus

Semester: Summer 2023

Presentation description

The Duffy blood group system has gained much attention for its involvement in resistance and susceptibility to malaria-causing parasites (Plasmodium spp .) in humans. Non-human primates have a close evolutionary relationship to humans and share similar parasites, making them a great model for researching blood group variation in the Duffy gene and the level of malaria susceptibility for individual variants. This project aims to explore if non-human primate species show variation in the Duffy gene that parallels genetic variation seen in humans. To investigate genetic variation in this region across different primate species, we applied computational methods and gathered publicly available data from 233 species. The extracellular region in Duffy is known to be involved in the invasion of malaria causing species, thus we limited our analysis to this region of the gene. We identified 57 synonymous and 43 non-synonymous variants across 120 primate species and applied the McDonald Kreitman test to evaluate evidence for positive selection, which would suggest the variation seen in the extracellular region may be linked with Plasmodium spp. interaction. Furthermore, we identified a set of nonsynonymous polymorphisms that are predicted to encode different Duffy blood group alleles. This project expands our understanding of diversity at the Duffy locus in primates, helps to identify patterns of blood group variation in non-human primates and provides insights into the evolution of the Duffy gene under similar selective pressures. Further work could investigate the|functional consequences these variants may have on malaria susceptibility.

Presenter Name: Grace Dewyer
Presentation Type: Poster
Presentation Format: In Person
Presentation #62
College: Medicine
School / Department: Human Genetics
Research Mentor: Ellen Leffler
Date | Time: Thursday, Aug 3rd | 9:00 AM