Anthropological features of the CFTR gene : Its variability in an African population.

Maria Ciminelli B, Bombieri C, Ciccacci C, Belpinati F, Pompei F, Maselli R, Simporé J, Pignatti PF, Modiano G.

Ann Hum Biol. 2011 Mar ;38(2):203-9. doi : 10.3109/03014460.2010.507554. Epub 2010 Sep 3.

PMID : 20812883 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE] ;

BACKGROUND : The CFTR gene (Cystic Fibrosis conductance Transmembrane Regulator) is the gene responsible for Cystic Fibrosis, the most common severe autosomal recessive disease in Europeans. It has been extensively explored in several European and European-derived populations, but poorly studied in the other major human groups.
AIM : To characterize the variability of the CFTR gene in an African population.
SUBJECTS AND METHODS : Using DGGE, all 27 exons (4443 bp) and 2184 bp of the flanking intronic regions of the CFTR gene were studied in a random sample of 45 Mossì from Burkina Faso (Western sub-Saharan Africa).
RESULTS : Sixteen variable sites were found : 13 SNPs (one in the promoter region, four non-synonymous and five synonymous in the exons and three in the introns) and three intronic STRs. Only the promoter site ( - 94 G/T), slightly polymorphic in the present survey, was not variable in different European populations. Comparison between Western Africans, Eastern Africans, Europeans and Eastern Asians showed that alleles at two intronic STRs (T(n) and (TG)(m) in intron 8), four exonic (M470V, 2694 T/G, 4002 A/G and 4521 G/A) and one intronic (875+40 A/G) SNPs have very different frequencies among at least two major human groups. Moreover, the overall degree of non-synonymous variability in Mossì is much lower than that in Europeans. A possible interpretation of this finding is proposed.
CONCLUSIONS : The CFTR gene has been since long hypothesized to have undergone selection in Europeans. The present study by comparing Africans and Europeans for the overall variability of the gene supports this hypothesis.

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