Why would a deadly genetically-transmitted disease persist? Doesn’t “survival of the fittest” mean that any genetic mutation that causes premature death should quickly be extinguished? In the case of Cystic Fibrosis, the problem is even more dramatic, because CF causes infertility in men. How could this gene possibly survive? Yet it not only survives, it thrives, with as many as 1 in 30 Europeans carrying it.
This week, we discuss a study offering at least a partial explanation of how a gene like the one that causes CF can still exist after thousands of years.
Each week, Kevin Zelnio, Razib Khan, and I choose one or more journal articles that have been covered by bloggers on ResearchBlogging.org to discuss in podcast form. Ideally, you’ll read the blog post first to get a general understanding of the research, then listen to our podcast to hear our impressions. Here is the article we’re discussing this week:
Kosova, G., Pickrell, J., Kelley, J., McArdle, P., Shuldiner, A., Abney, M., & Ober, C. (2010). The CFTR Met 470 Allele Is Associated with Lower Birth Rates in Fertile Men from a Population Isolate PLoS Genetics, 6 (6) DOI: 10.1371/journal.pgen.1000974
Razib wrote about it on his blog Gene Expression:
Since this remains an experimental project, we’d appreciate any feedback you can offer on the podcast.