The insertion/deletion (I/D) polymorphism of the angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE), commonly associated with many diseases, is believed to have affected human adaptation to environmental changes during the out-of-Africa expansion. APOBEC3B (A3B), a member of the cytidine deaminase family APOBEC3s, also exhibits a variable gene insertion/deletion polymorphism across world populations. Using data available from published reports, we examined the global geographic distribution of ACE and A3B genotypes. In tracking the modern human dispersal routes of these two genes, we found that the variation trends of the two I/D polymorphisms were directly correlated. We observed that the frequencies of ACE insertion and A3B deletion rose in parallel along the expansion route. To investigate the presence of a correlation between the two polymorphisms and the effect of their interaction on human health, we analyzed 1199 unrelated Chinese adults to determine their genotypes and other important clinical characteristics. We discovered a significant difference between the ACE genotype/allele distribution in the A3B DD and A3B II/ID groups (P = 0.045 and 0.015, respectively), indicating that the ACE Alu I allele frequency in the former group was higher than in the latter group. No specific clinical phenotype could be associated with the interaction between the ACE and A3B I/D polymorphisms. A3B has been identified as a powerful inhibitor of Alu retrotransposition, and primate A3 genes have undergone strong positive selection (and expansion) for restricting the mobility of endogenous retrotransposons during evolution. Based on these findings, we suggest that the ACE Alu insertion was enabled (facilitated) by the A3B deletion and that functional loss of A3B provided an opportunity for enhanced human adaptability and survival in response to the environmental and climate challenges arising during the migration from Africa.
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