Greenlandic Inuit show genetic signatures of diet and climate adaptation

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

Matteo Fumagalli, Ida Moltke, Niels Grarup, Fernando Racimo, Peter Bjerregaard, Marit E. Jørgensen, Thorfinn Sand Korneliussen, Pascale Gerbault, Line Skotte, Allan René Linneberg, Cramer Christensen, Ivan Brandslund, Torben Jørgensen, Emilia Huerta-Sánchez, Erik Berg Schmidt, Oluf Borbye Pedersen, Torben Hansen, Anders Albrechtsen, Rasmus Nielsen

The indigenous people of Greenland, the Inuit, have lived for a long time in the extreme conditions of the Arctic, including low annual temperatures, and with a specialized diet rich in protein and fatty acids, particularly omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs). A scan of Inuit genomes for signatures of adaptation revealed signals at several loci, with the strongest signal located in a cluster of fatty acid desaturases that determine PUFA levels. The selected alleles are associated with multiple metabolic and anthropometric phenotypes and have large effect sizes for weight and height, with the effect on height replicated in Europeans. By analyzing membrane lipids, we found that the selected alleles modulate fatty acid composition, which may affect the regulation of growth hormones. Thus, the Inuit have genetic and physiological adaptations to a diet rich in PUFAs.

Original languageEnglish
JournalScience (New York, N.Y.)
Volume349
Issue number6254
Pages (from-to)1343-1347
Number of pages5
ISSN0036-8075
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2015

ID: 145240801