Adaptive no more | Science News



Support nonprofit journalism

Subscribe now


Adaptive no more

A potential benefit in prehistoric lean times, genetic variant may increase risk of gestational diabetes today

6:16pm, February 7, 2011

A genetic variation that may increase a woman’s risk of gestational diabetes is widespread today because it was actually beneficial to early agricultural populations, a new study suggests.

Pregnant women who carry two copies of a low-activity form of the gene GIP have higher blood-glucose levels — a marker of gestational diabetes risk — Sheau Yu Teddy Hsu of Stanford University and colleagues report online February 7 in Diabetes. But when the gene’s low-activity version arose somewhere in Eurasia an estimated 8,100 years ago, that same glucose-boosting quality may have helped women maintain their pregnancies during lean times.

The new work takes an important step toward characterizing how one particular form of a gene shapes physiology and how evolution may act on that gene, says Joshua Akey, an evolutionary biologist and population geneticist at the University of Washington in Seattle.

Hsu and his colleagues recent

This article is only available to Science News subscribers. Already a subscriber? Log in now. Or subscribe today for full access.

Get Science News headlines by e-mail.

More from Science News

From the Nature Index Paid Content