Natural selection and functional genetic variation in the p53 pathway

Lara Sucheston, David B. Witonsky, Darcie Hastings, Ozlem Yildiz, Vanessa J. Clark, Anna di Rienzo, Kenan Onel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


The allele frequencies of two functional single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in the p53 pathway, the MDM2 SNP309 and TP53 Arg72Pro, vary dramatically among populations. That the frequencies of the TP53 SNP follow a clinal distribution may suggest that selective pressure from environmental variables correlated with latitude contributed to these observed population differences. Recently, winter temperature and UV radiation were found to be significantly correlated with the TP53 and the MDM2 SNPs, respectively, in East Asians; whether these correlations are more extreme than expected based upon nonselective factors such as patterns of human migration remains unclear. Here, we genotyped these two SNPs in 971 unrelated individuals from 52 unique populations worldwide and tested for correlations with both latitude and a number of climate-related environmental variables on a global scale, controlling for these neutral processes. The TP53 SNP was associated with a significant selection signal for a few climate variables, such as short-wave radiation flux in the winter, but these signals were no longer significant after correction for multiple tests. The MDM2 SNP did not exhibit a significant signal with any climate variable. Therefore, these SNPs are unlikely to be under selective pressure driven by these variables. Thus, these data underscore the need to incorporate population history when assessing signatures of selection.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberddr028
Pages (from-to)1502-1508
Number of pages7
JournalHuman Molecular Genetics
Issue number8
StatePublished - Apr 2011
Externally publishedYes


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