Population Genetics of Human Genomic Elements

  • Datum:
  • Plats: Lindahlsalen, 05:01058, EBC, Norbyvägen 18A, Uppsala
  • Doktorand: Naidoo, Thijessen
  • Om avhandlingen
  • Arrangör: Människans evolution
  • Kontaktperson: Naidoo, Thijessen
  • Disputation

In this thesis, I have taken a population genetics approach; evaluating how the distribution of genetic variation in the human genome has been shaped through the actions of natural selection on functional genomic elements.

The genomes of living organisms are composed of a multitude of functional units, which interact with each other and their environment in a highly regulated fashion, to facilitate the expression of an enduring (and evolving) phenotype. Several approaches have emerged in the effort to identify these functional units and explore their activities. In this thesis, I have taken a population genetics approach; evaluating how the distribution of genetic variation in the human genome has been shaped through the actions of natural selection on functional genomic elements. In the first paper, I interrogate a catalogue of elements derived from biochemical signatures for signals of selection; finding significant signals of purifying selection on regulatory elements, independent of linked-purifying selection. In the second paper, I explore the pseudogene class of genomic elements, and find that a large proportion of a particular subclass, transcribed duplicated pseudogenes, has experienced significant amounts of positive selection. In the third paper, I focus on protein coding genes and variants that disrupt their open reading frames. Specifically, I examine the distribution of loss-of-function variants in the Khoe-San population; gauging their functional significance and exploring the biological roles of affected genes. In the final paper, instead of using population genetics to uncover and explore genomic elements, I use a major genomic element – the Y chromosome – as an effective tool to study the evolutionary history of a human population.