Evolutionary epigenetics of modern human populations

Giuliani, Cristina (2015) Evolutionary epigenetics of modern human populations , [Dissertation thesis], Alma Mater Studiorum Università di Bologna. Dottorato di ricerca in Biodiversità ed evoluzione, 27 Ciclo. DOI 10.6092/unibo/amsdottorato/6890.
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Epigenetic variability is a new mechanism for the study of human microevolution, because it creates both phenotypic diversity within an individual and within population. This mechanism constitutes an important reservoir for adaptation in response to new stimuli and recent studies have demonstrated that selective pressures shape not only the genetic code but also DNA methylation profiles. The aim of this thesis is the study of the role of DNA methylation changes in human adaptive processes, considering the Italian peninsula and macro-geographical areas. A whole-genome analysis of DNA methylation profile across the Italian penisula identified some genes whose methylation levels differ between individuals of different Italian districts (South, Centre and North of Italy). These genes are involved in nitrogen compound metabolism and genes involved in pathogens response. Considering individuals with different macro-geographical origins (individuals of Asians, European and African ancestry) more significant DMRs (differentially methylated regions) were identified and are located in genes involved in glucoronidation, in immune response as well as in cell comunication processes. A "profile" of each ancestry (African, Asian and European) was described. Moreover a deepen analysis of three candidate genes (KRTCAP3, MAD1L and BRSK2) in a cohort of individuals of different countries (Morocco, Nigeria, China and Philippines) living in Bologna, was performed in order to explore genetic and epigenetic diversity. Moreover this thesis have paved the way for the application of DNA methylation for the study of hystorical remains and in particular for the age-estimation of individuals starting from biological samples (such as teeth or blood). Noteworthy, a mathematical model that considered methylation values of DNA extracted from cementum and pulp of living individuals can estimate chronological age with high accuracy (median absolute difference between age estimated from DNA methylation and chronological age was 1.2 years).

Tipologia del documento
Tesi di dottorato
Giuliani, Cristina
Dottorato di ricerca
Scuola di dottorato
Scienze biologiche, biomediche e biotecnologiche
Settore disciplinare
Settore concorsuale
Parole chiave
DNA methylation, human evolution, human populations, age-estimation, epigenetics
Data di discussione
12 Maggio 2015

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