Inter-chromosomal level of genome organization and longevity-related phenotypes in humans.

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Studies focusing on unraveling the genetic origin of health span in humans assume that polygenic, aging-related phenotypes are inherited through Mendelian mechanisms of inheritance of individual genes. We use the Framingham Heart Study (FHS) data to examine whether non-Mendelian mechanisms of inheritance can drive linkage of loci on non-homologous chromosomes and whether such mechanisms can be relevant to longevity-related phenotypes. We report on genome-wide inter-chromosomal linkage disequilibrium (LD) and on chromosome-wide intra-chromosomal LD and show that these are real phenomena in the FHS data. Genetic analysis of inheritance in families based on Mendelian segregation reveals that the alleles of single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in LD at loci on non-homologous chromosomes are inherited as a complex resembling haplotypes of a genetic unit. This result implies that the inter-chromosomal LD is likely caused by non-random assortment of non-homologous chromosomes during meiosis. The risk allele haplotypes can be subject to dominant-negative selection primary through the mechanisms of non-Mendelian inheritance. They can go to extinction within two human generations. The set of SNPs in inter-chromosomal LD (N=68) is nearly threefold enriched, with high significance (p=1.6 × 10(-9)), on non-synonymous coding variants (N=28) compared to the entire qualified set of the studied SNPs. Genes for the tightly linked SNPs are involved in fundamental biological processes in an organism. Survival analyses show that the revealed non-genetic linkage is associated with heritable complex phenotype of premature death. Our results suggest the presence of inter-chromosomal level of functional organization in the human genome and highlight a challenging problem of genomics of human health and aging.





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Kulminski, Alexander M, Irina Culminskaya and Anatoli I Yashin (2013). Inter-chromosomal level of genome organization and longevity-related phenotypes in humans. Age (Dordr), 35(2). pp. 501–518. 10.1007/s11357-011-9374-6 Retrieved from

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Alexander Kulminski

Research Professor in the Social Science Research Institute

Irina Kulminskaya

Research Scientist, Senior

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