Genetic admixture is central to primate evolution. We combined 50 years of field observations of immigration and group demography with genomic data from ~9 generations of hybrid baboons to investigate the consequences of admixture in the wild. Despite no obvious fitness costs to hybrids, we found signatures of selection against admixture similar to those described for archaic hominins. These patterns were concentrated near genes where ancestry is strongly associated with gene expression. Our analyses also show that introgression is partially predictable across the genome. This study demonstrates the value of integrating genomic and field data for revealing how “genomic signatures of selection” (e.g., reduced introgression in low-recombination regions) manifest in nature; moreover, it underscores the importance of other primates as living models for human evolution.
- Award ID(s):
- NSF-PAR ID:
- Date Published:
- Journal Name:
- Science Advances
- Medium: X
- Sponsoring Org:
- National Science Foundation
More Like this
INTRODUCTION To faithfully distribute genetic material to daughter cells during cell division, spindle fibers must couple to DNA by means of a structure called the kinetochore, which assembles at each chromosome’s centromere. Human centromeres are located within large arrays of tandemly repeated DNA sequences known as alpha satellite (αSat), which often span millions of base pairs on each chromosome. Arrays of αSat are frequently surrounded by other types of tandem satellite repeats, which have poorly understood functions, along with nonrepetitive sequences, including transcribed genes. Previous genome sequencing efforts have been unable to generate complete assemblies of satellite-rich regions because of their scale and repetitive nature, limiting the ability to study their organization, variation, and function. RATIONALE Pericentromeric and centromeric (peri/centromeric) satellite DNA sequences have remained almost entirely missing from the assembled human reference genome for the past 20 years. Using a complete, telomere-to-telomere (T2T) assembly of a human genome, we developed and deployed tailored computational approaches to reveal the organization and evolutionary patterns of these satellite arrays at both large and small length scales. We also performed experiments to map precisely which αSat repeats interact with kinetochore proteins. Last, we compared peri/centromeric regions among multiple individuals to understand how these sequences vary across diverse genetic backgrounds. RESULTS Satellite repeats constitute 6.2% of the T2T-CHM13 genome assembly, with αSat representing the single largest component (2.8% of the genome). By studying the sequence relationships of αSat repeats in detail across each centromere, we found genome-wide evidence that human centromeres evolve through “layered expansions.” Specifically, distinct repetitive variants arise within each centromeric region and expand through mechanisms that resemble successive tandem duplications, whereas older flanking sequences shrink and diverge over time. We also revealed that the most recently expanded repeats within each αSat array are more likely to interact with the inner kinetochore protein Centromere Protein A (CENP-A), which coincides with regions of reduced CpG methylation. This suggests a strong relationship between local satellite repeat expansion, kinetochore positioning, and DNA hypomethylation. Furthermore, we uncovered large and unexpected structural rearrangements that affect multiple satellite repeat types, including active centromeric αSat arrays. Last, by comparing sequence information from nearly 1600 individuals’ X chromosomes, we observed that individuals with recent African ancestry possess the greatest genetic diversity in the region surrounding the centromere, which sometimes contains a predominantly African αSat sequence variant. CONCLUSION The genetic and epigenetic properties of centromeres are closely interwoven through evolution. These findings raise important questions about the specific molecular mechanisms responsible for the relationship between inner kinetochore proteins, DNA hypomethylation, and layered αSat expansions. Even more questions remain about the function and evolution of non-αSat repeats. To begin answering these questions, we have produced a comprehensive encyclopedia of peri/centromeric sequences in a human genome, and we demonstrated how these regions can be studied with modern genomic tools. Our work also illuminates the rich genetic variation hidden within these formerly missing regions of the genome, which may contribute to health and disease. This unexplored variation underlines the need for more T2T human genome assemblies from genetically diverse individuals. Gapless assemblies illuminate centromere evolution. ( Top ) The organization of peri/centromeric satellite repeats. ( Bottom left ) A schematic portraying (i) evidence for centromere evolution through layered expansions and (ii) the localization of inner-kinetochore proteins in the youngest, most recently expanded repeats, which coincide with a region of DNA hypomethylation. ( Bottom right ) An illustration of the global distribution of chrX centromere haplotypes, showing increased diversity in populations with recent African ancestry.more » « less
Members of genetically admixed populations possess ancestry from multiple source groups, and studies of human genetic admixture frequently estimate ancestry components corresponding to fractions of individual genomes that trace to specific ancestral populations. However, the same numerical ancestry fraction can represent a wide array of admixture scenarios within an individual’s genealogy. Using a mechanistic model of admixture, we consider admixture genealogically: how many ancestors from the source populations does the admixture represent? We consider African-Americans, for whom continent-level estimates produce a 75–85% value for African ancestry on average and 15–25% for European ancestry. Genetic studies together with key features of African-American demographic history suggest ranges for parameters of a simple three-epoch model. Considering parameter sets compatible with estimates of current ancestry levels, we infer that if all genealogical lines of a random African-American born during 1960–1965 are traced back until they reach members of source populations, the mean over parameter sets of the expected number of genealogical lines terminating with African individuals is 314 (interquartile range 240–376), and the mean of the expected number terminating in Europeans is 51 (interquartile range 32–69). Across discrete generations, the peak number of African genealogical ancestors occurs in birth cohorts from the early 1700s, and the probability exceeds 50% that at least one European ancestor was born more recently than 1835. Our genealogical perspective can contribute to further understanding the admixture processes that underlie admixed populations. For African-Americans, the results provide insight both on how many of the ancestors of a typical African-American might have been forcibly displaced in the Transatlantic Slave Trade and on how many separate European admixture events might exist in a typical African-American genealogy.
INTRODUCTION A major challenge in genomics is discerning which bases among billions alter organismal phenotypes and affect health and disease risk. Evidence of past selective pressure on a base, whether highly conserved or fast evolving, is a marker of functional importance. Bases that are unchanged in all mammals may shape phenotypes that are essential for organismal health. Bases that are evolving quickly in some species, or changed only in species that share an adaptive trait, may shape phenotypes that support survival in specific niches. Identifying bases associated with exceptional capacity for cellular recovery, such as in species that hibernate, could inform therapeutic discovery. RATIONALE The power and resolution of evolutionary analyses scale with the number and diversity of species compared. By analyzing genomes for hundreds of placental mammals, we can detect which individual bases in the genome are exceptionally conserved (constrained) and likely to be functionally important in both coding and noncoding regions. By including species that represent all orders of placental mammals and aligning genomes using a method that does not require designating humans as the reference species, we explore unusual traits in other species. RESULTS Zoonomia’s mammalian comparative genomics resources are the most comprehensive and statistically well-powered produced to date, with a protein-coding alignment of 427 mammals and a whole-genome alignment of 240 placental mammals representing all orders. We estimate that at least 10.7% of the human genome is evolutionarily conserved relative to neutrally evolving repeats and identify about 101 million significantly constrained single bases (false discovery rate < 0.05). We cataloged 4552 ultraconserved elements at least 20 bases long that are identical in more than 98% of the 240 placental mammals. Many constrained bases have no known function, illustrating the potential for discovery using evolutionary measures. Eighty percent are outside protein-coding exons, and half have no functional annotations in the Encyclopedia of DNA Elements (ENCODE) resource. Constrained bases tend to vary less within human populations, which is consistent with purifying selection. Species threatened with extinction have few substitutions at constrained sites, possibly because severely deleterious alleles have been purged from their small populations. By pairing Zoonomia’s genomic resources with phenotype annotations, we find genomic elements associated with phenotypes that differ between species, including olfaction, hibernation, brain size, and vocal learning. We associate genomic traits, such as the number of olfactory receptor genes, with physical phenotypes, such as the number of olfactory turbinals. By comparing hibernators and nonhibernators, we implicate genes involved in mitochondrial disorders, protection against heat stress, and longevity in this physiologically intriguing phenotype. Using a machine learning–based approach that predicts tissue-specific cis - regulatory activity in hundreds of species using data from just a few, we associate changes in noncoding sequence with traits for which humans are exceptional: brain size and vocal learning. CONCLUSION Large-scale comparative genomics opens new opportunities to explore how genomes evolved as mammals adapted to a wide range of ecological niches and to discover what is shared across species and what is distinctively human. High-quality data for consistently defined phenotypes are necessary to realize this potential. Through partnerships with researchers in other fields, comparative genomics can address questions in human health and basic biology while guiding efforts to protect the biodiversity that is essential to these discoveries. Comparing genomes from 240 species to explore the evolution of placental mammals. Our new phylogeny (black lines) has alternating gray and white shading, which distinguishes mammalian orders (labeled around the perimeter). Rings around the phylogeny annotate species phenotypes. Seven species with diverse traits are illustrated, with black lines marking their branch in the phylogeny. Sequence conservation across species is described at the top left. IMAGE CREDIT: K. MORRILLmore » « less
In a genetically admixed population, admixed individuals possess genealogical and genetic ancestry from multiple source groups. Under a mechanistic model of admixture, we study the number of distinct ancestors from the source populations that the admixture represents. Combining a mechanistic admixture model with a recombination model that describes the probability that a genealogical ancestor is a genetic ancestor, for a member of a genetically admixed population, we count genetic ancestors from the source populations—those genealogical ancestors from the source populations who contribute to the genome of the modern admixed individual. We compare patterns in the numbers of genealogical and genetic ancestors across the generations. To illustrate the enumeration of genetic ancestors from source populations in an admixed group, we apply the model to the African-American population, extending recent results on the numbers of African and European genealogical ancestors that contribute to the pedigree of an African-American chosen at random, so that we also evaluate the numbers of African and European genetic ancestors who contribute to random African-American genomes. The model suggests that the autosomal genome of a random African-American born in the interval 1960–1965 contains genetic contributions from a mean of 162 African (standard deviation 47, interquartile range 127–192) and 32 European ancestors (standard deviation 14, interquartile range 21–43). The enumeration of genetic ancestors can potentially be performed in other diploid species in which admixture and recombination models can be specified.