The genetic structure and adaptation of Andean highlanders and Amazonians are influenced by the interplay between geography and culture

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Borda, Victor
Alvim, Isabela
Mendes, Marla
Silva-Carvalho, Carolina
Soares-Souza, Giordano B.
Lear, Thiago P.
Furlan, Vinicius
Scliar, Marilia O.
Zamudio, Roxana
Zolini, Camila
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Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
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Western South America was one of the worldwide cradles of civilization. The well-known Inca Empire was the tip of the iceberg of an evolutionary process that started 11,000 to 14,000 years ago. Genetic data from 18 Peruvian populations reveal the following: 1) The between-population homogenization of the central southern Andes and its differentiation with respect to Amazonian populations of similar latitudes do not extend northward. Instead, longitudinal gene flow between the northern coast of Peru, Andes, and Amazonia accompanied cultural and socioeconomic interactions revealed by archeology. This pattern recapitulates the environmental and cultural differentiation between the fertile north, where altitudes are lower, and the arid south, where the Andes are higher, acting as a genetic barrier between the sharply different environments of the Andes and Amazonia. 2) The genetic homogenization between the populations of the arid Andes is not only due to migrations during the Inca Empire or the subsequent colonial period. It started at least during the earlier expansion of the Wari Empire (600 to 1,000 years before present). 3) This demographic history allowed for cases of positive natural selection in the high and arid Andes vs. the low Amazon tropical forest: in the Andes, a putative enhancer in HAND2-AS1 (heart and neural crest derivatives expressed 2 antisense RNA1, a noncoding gene related to cardiovascular function) and rs269868-C/Ser1067 in DUOX2 (dual oxidase 2, related to thyroid function and innate immunity) genes and, in the Amazon, the gene encoding for the CD45 protein, essential for antigen recognition by T and B lymphocytes in viral-host interaction.
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