Abstract

Positive selection has undoubtedly played a critical role in the evolution of Homo sapiens. Of the many phenotypic traits that define our species—notably the enormous brain, advanced cognitive abilities, complex vocal organs, bipedalism and opposable thumbs—most (if not all) are likely the product of strong positive selection. Many other aspects of human biology not necessarily related to the ‘branding’ of our species, such as host–pathogen interactions, reproduction, dietary adaptation and physical appearance, have also been the substrate of varying levels of positive selection. Comparative genetics/genomics studies in recent years have uncovered a growing list of genes that might have experienced positive selection during the evolution of human and/or primates. These genes offer valuable inroads into understanding the biological processes specific to humans, and the evolutionary forces that gave rise to them. Here, we present a comprehensive review of these genes, and their implications for human evolution.

Traditionally, studies of human biology have operated under the assumption, either explicitly or implicitly, that much of the molecular processes in humans (and the genes that underlie them) are conserved in other species. The pervasiveness of this sentiment is perhaps best reflected in the wide reliance on model organisms, from microbes all the way up to non-human primates, in the studies of human biology and disease. The assumption of evolutionary conservation, though powerful, has a key deficiency—it fails to address the many aspects of human biology and disease that differ significantly from other species. Although this deficiency has long been recognized, it is only recently that there has been an upsurge of interest in characterizing human-specific traits at the molecular and genetic levels.

In studying human-specific traits, it is necessary to investigate the selective forces that gave rise to them. Evolutionary biologists have typically invoked two types of selective forces that shape the evolution of species. One is purifying selection, which favors the conservation of existing phenotypes. The other is positive selection (also known as Darwinian selection), which promotes the emergence of new phenotypes. Positive selection can leave a set of telltale signatures in the genes under its influence, such as the rapid divergence of functional sites between species and the depression of polymorphism within species (13). On the basis of these signatures, investigators are beginning to identify likely target genes of positive selection in the human genome. The identification of these genes represents the first, and necessary, step toward gaining molecular and genetic insights into the evolution of human-specific traits. In this article, we review genes shown to bear evidence of having been the substrate of positive selection in the evolution of humans and/or primates (Table 1). Our emphasis is to provide a comprehensive listing of these genes, and for that reason, we will include genes even if the evidence of positive selection is only suggestive. Given that the number of genes is fairly large, the amount of discussion devoted to each gene will be limited. We therefore encourage readers to refer to the primary literature if they wish to assess the strength of evidence for any individual gene.

For clarity, we will divide genes into several functional domains and consider each domain under a separate heading. We note, however, that these genes can also be coarsely sorted into two categories on the basis of their relevance to the evolution of human-specific traits. One is genes involved in biological functions typically associated with positive selection across a wide range of species, including host–pathogen interactions, reproduction, dietary adaptation and appearance. For these genes, it should come as no surprise that they are also the target of positive selection in humans, and their involvement in human-specific traits may be limited. The other category is genes belonging to biological domains that bear defining differences between humans and other species, and for which positive selection appears to have operated more intensely in the lineage leading to humans than in other lineages. These include genes associated with behavior, brain anatomy, and to some extent, the sensory systems. These genes are particularly relevant to understanding the evolution of biological traits that distinguish the human species, such as increased brain size and advanced cognitive abilities.

GENES LINKED TO POSITIVE SELECTION

Host–pathogen interactions

Van Valen's Red Queen hypothesis has long served as a theoretical framework for understanding the evolutionary dynamics of host–pathogen interactions (4). It states that the coevolution of two intensely competing species resembles an arms race. Both species evolve continuously to gain advantage over their rival, and yet the long-term outcome is evolutionary stasis, whereby the two species continue to coexist (and do battle) without a clear winner. In the case of host–pathogen coevolution, the pathogen is under strong selection to constantly devise new strategies for gaining access to the host while evading its defense system, whereas the host is under selection to deny access to the pathogen and to neutralize it.

Numerous studies in diverse taxa have indeed shown that genes involved in host–pathogen interactions are a frequent substrate of intense positive selection. The first study of positive selection in humans was on the genes encoding the major histocompatibility complex (MHC), which is a group of related proteins involved in antigen presentation (59). Overdominant selection at the MHC locus has been demonstrated in many species, and the most striking manifestation in humans is the sharing of ancestral polymorphisms with other hominoid taxa (10,11). The exact nature of the selective pressure on MHC is not completely understood, but selection appears to favor heterozygotes and low-frequency alleles, leading to high levels of allelic diversity at the MHC locus.

Several leukocyte antigens have also been found to have likely experienced positive Darwinian selection. One of these is CD45, or the leukocyte common antigen, which has been shown recently to be evolving rapidly in catarrhine species (i.e. old world monkeys, apes and humans) (12). Another cell surface antigen, CD59, thought to be involved in T-cell maturation, also exhibits the signature of positive selection in the lineage leading from catarrhine ancestors to humans (13).

Selection on immune response genes is by no means limited to MHC and leukocyte antigens. Other examples include β-defensins, which function as antimicrobial peptides (1416); interleukins, which provide cell–cell signaling in the immune system (1719); immunoglobulins, which are the antibodies that neutralize foreign antigens (2022); killer cell inhibitory receptors, which regulate early antiviral response (23); CC chemokine receptor 5 (CCR5), which regulates leukocyte activity (24) and APOBEC3G, a cytidine deaminase with apparent anti-viral function (25). The pyrin gene, which appears to function in innate immunity and whose mutations are associated with familial Mediterranean fever, also shows signatures of episodic positive selection (26). Eosinophil cationic protein, a novel catarrhine protein generated by a duplication event, has been show to have developed a novel anti-pathogenic function, likely as the result of positive selection (27).

Cell surface molecules, especially those on blood cells, can serve as convenient (and unwitting) gateways for pathogen entry into cells. These molecules are therefore intimately involved in host–pathogen interactions even though they do not necessarily participate directly in immune response. Not surprisingly, genes encoding these cell surface molecules are often subject to positive selection. One example is CCR5 mentioned above, which regulates immune cell activity, but is also a key receptor for entry of the HIV virus (24). The ABO blood group gene, which encodes cell surface proteins on erythrocytes (i.e. red blood cells), has long been thought to be a substrate of positive selection (28), and has recently been shown to have experienced balancing selection for the last 3 million years in many primate species (29). The Rh blood group genes, which also encode erythrocyte surface proteins, have long been studied in the context of selection (30), with recent evidence suggesting that positive selection has operated on these genes in the lineage leading to apes (31). Additional examples of cell surface molecules subject to positive selection include glycophorin A, a glycoprotein solely expressed on the erythrocyte surface and implicated in pathogen binding (32,33), and the Duffy antigen which is discussed later on the context of malaria resistance.

One striking finding concerning cell surface molecules is the complete absence in humans of N-glycolylneuraminic acid (Neu5Gc), one of the two major sialic acids that function as glycoconjugates on most mammalian cell surfaces (the other being N-acetylneuraminic acid, or Neu5Ac). Humans lack endogenous Neu5Gc (but retain Neu5Ac) owing to a loss-of-function mutation in the gene encoding one of the enzymes in the Neu5Gc synthetic pathway, CMP-Neu5Achydroxylase (CMAH). This mutation apparently occurred in the human lineage after it diverged from other great apes (34,35). Interestingly, the loss of Neu5Gc during human evolution appears to have triggered additional adaptive changes in members of the Siglec protein family known to be involved in sialic acid binding. The most notable example is Siglec-9 (and perhaps several other related members of the Siglec family), which preferentially binds Neu5Gc in non-human hominoids, but which recognizes Neu5Ac (in addition to Neu5Gc) in humans (36). Another example is Siglec-L1, for which an amino acid substitution in humans (but not in other great apes) resulted in the loss a binding specificity to Neu5Gc (37). As yet, it is not clear whether these human-specific mutations are driven by positive selection. However, the potential role of cell-surface sialic acids in host–pathogen interactions makes the scenario of positive selection a rather feasible one (38,39).

Among human parasites, those causing malaria, Plasmodium falcipirum and P. vivax, seem to have accorded very recent and strong selective pressure on the cellular phenotype of human erythrocytes. The evolution of a number of erythrocyte genes have now been linked to malaria resistance. The classic example is the mutant allele of β-globin, which causes sickle-cell anemia when homozygous, but imparts some protection against malaria when heterozygous. In malaria-infested regions of the world, particularly sub-Saharan Africa, the mutant allele of β-globin has reached appreciable frequencies under strong selection, despite its fatal effect in homozygotes (40). The Duffy antigen is present on the erythrocyte surface and serves as a receptor for P. vivax. Null alleles of the Duffy locus, which impart resistance to P. vivax, appear to have been driven to near fixation by positive selection in sub-Saharan Africa (41,42). Multiple G6PD-deficiency alleles, which confer some protection against malaria, seem to have emerged roughly 10 000 years ago, and rose to appreciable frequencies under positive selection in regions with high malaria prevalence (4346). A promoter variant of the CD40 ligand gene, TNFSF5, which also confers some malaria resistance, was similarly shown to have risen to high frequency quickly under positive selection (46).

It is perhaps not surprising, given the potential for strong selective pressure, that genetic programs controlling host–pathogen interactions in humans and other species are littered with signatures of positive selection (47).

Reproduction

Like genes implicated in host–pathogen interactions, genes involved in reproduction have also been shown to be under strong positive selection across taxa (48). Because of the large reproductive skew in males (i.e. high variance in reproductive success from male to male), selection on male reproductive processes is particularly intense. Meta-analysis of the human sperm proteome has already provided evidence that these genes may have evolved under positive selection (32,48), and more in-depth analyses of specific sperm-related genes are confirming this pattern. Studies of protamines (32,49,50), transition protein 2 (32), semenogelins (51), sperm ion channels (52) and fertilin (53) have all shown evidence of positive selection in humans. Many other genes of lesser known biochemical functions, but which are expressed predominantly in spermatogenic cells (and are linked to male infertility in some cases), have also been suggested to be subject to positive selection (5458). The prevalence of positive selection on male reproductive genes is therefore not unlike genes involved in host–pathogen interactions.

A number of female reproductive genes have also been shown to be under positive selection. Two of these encode the zona pellucida glyoproteins ZP2 and ZP3, which make up the egg's protective coat and are intimately involved in sperm–egg recognition during fertilization (59). Another gene encodes the oviductal glycoprotein (OGP), which is also implicated in fertilization (59). It is believed that positive selection on these fertilization-related proteins may stem from the ‘arms race’ between sperm and egg, whereby the rapid evolution of sperm-associated proteins involved in sperm–egg recognition drives the rapid evolution of corresponding egg proteins (59).

Another female reproductive protein under positive selection is chorionic gonadotropin (CG), which is a key hormone for establishing pregnancy in humans and other simian primates (60). Why this gene should be under positive selection is unclear. It is interesting to note, however, that one of the key reproductive changes in the evolution of humans is increased gestation time. Although there is no evidence to suggest that this has any bearing on the evolution of CG or other female reproductive proteins, the possibility of a link is tantalizing.

Dietary adaptation

The adaptation to new diet is a major driving force in the evolution of a species. Dietary changes during the evolution of various primate species, particularly humans, have been well documented over the years (61,62), and a number of genes have been implicated in diet-driven positive selection. A well-studied example can be found in a pancreatic ribonuclease in old-world monkey species (63). In this species, the protein has evolved the ability to better digest bacterial DNA as a result of the monkey's changing diet. Another example is lysozyme, which aids in the degradation of gut bacteria. This protein has been shown to be under positive selection in many primate groups including humans (64,65). The nature of this selection is understood best in the langur monkey, a species that has evolved a foregut fermentation method of digestion similar to that of ruminants (64,66). In humans, the reason for positive selection is less clear, but it has been speculated that a shift towards a more meat-based diet, which likely required changes in the ability to digest bacteria, might have played a role (67,68). This suggestion is given credence by studies of alanine-glyoxylate aminotransferase (AGT), a gene with seemingly divergent roles in herbivores and carnivores, and which also shows evidence of positive selection across simian primates (69).

Two other examples of positive selection on diet-related genes have captured the interest of researchers and the public alike. A common mutation allele of the ALDH2 gene causes the inability of the body to handle large quantities of alcohol, and is thought to be responsible for low alcohol tolerance in certain East Asian populations. The ALDH2 locus shows some signature of recent selection in humans (70). It has been speculated, though far from proven, that selection might favor the ALDH2-definicent allele in East Asian populations because alcohol consumption exacerbates the pathology of hepatitis B infections (which are prevalent in East Asia) (71).

In most species the ability to digest dairy ends with weaning in childhood. However, in some human populations, this ability persists in many adults. A derived allele of the lactase gene has been shown to give adults the ability to continue to process dairy. This allele has been shown to be the substrate of strong positive selection (72,73). Similar to the malaria-resistance genes, the selected allele of the lactase gene appears to have arisen very recently, about 5000–10 000 years ago, coincident with the emergence of dairy farming in Eurasia (73). This allele rose quickly in frequency, presumably because individuals with the allele had a better ability to consume dairy, a clear survival advantage at that time.

Appearance

Among genes involved in the physical appearance of humans, the one with the longest story is MC1R, which is involved in skin and hair coloration. The MC1R gene encodes the melanocortin receptor, which regulates the production of eumelanin, a cause of black pigmentation. Mutations in the gene have been reported for many taxa in which coat color variation is observed, including rodents (74,75), cats (76), dogs (77), horses (78) and several primate species (79). As coloration has long been recognized as adaptive, it seems likely that changes in this gene are driven by positive selection. Indeed, in many of the non-human species in which the gene has been studied, coloration adaptations have been invoked as the driving selective force. In humans, however, the evolution of MC1R has not been credibly linked to adaptation.

Multiple studies have shown extensive polymorphism at the MC1R locus in human populations, most notably three separate mutations resulting in red hair in the Irish, Dutch and Swedes (80,81). However, there remains some question as to whether this polymorphism represents a relaxation of constraint on the gene outside of African populations or whether there is diversifying selection acting upon the gene. Arguing for the former is the observation that these polymorphisms are located exclusively outside of Africa, whereas the argument for the latter revolves around sexual selection (82). One possibility is that there exists an advantage to novelty in attracting mates and that with humans no longer relying on coloration for camouflage or protection against the sun, diversity was selected for. Although the answer is uncertain, it seems feasible that it lies as some combination of both relaxation of constraint and positive selection.

Sensory systems

Human sensory systems have undergone major changes from their primate ancestors, one of the most notable examples being the greater reliance on visual perception. One aspect of increased visual acuity is the emergence of trichromatic vision in great apes including humans, which is accomplished by three separate opsin genes that each preferentially absorb the red, green or blue wavelength. One of these, absorbing blue light, is autosomal and found ubiquitously among primates. The other two opsins are paralogs located on the X-chromosome, with both copies present in the catarrhine clade (old world monkeys, apes and humans) but not in the more basal platyrrhines (new world monkeys). In new world monkeys, the opsin gene on the X-chromosome is a single copy. This gene is polymorphic in some new world monkey species, creating a ‘red’ and a ‘green’ allele. Males and homozygous females are dichromatic, similar to most other mammals, whereas heterozygous females are trichromatic like their simian relatives (83,84). The two X-chromosomal paralogs in catarrhines have been suggested to be the subject of adaptive evolution (85,86).

Taste is another sensory modality for which there are ample examples of adaptive evolution. This is perhaps not surprising given the importance of dietary adaptation as we have discussed. The taste receptor for sweetness exhibits interesting functional differences among primates, with the receptor in simians (including humans) capable of recognizing more sweet compounds than is the case for prosimians (87). That this difference is driven by positive selection is not an unreasonable proposition given the dietary differences among primates, but this is yet to be formally proven. The multiple bitter taste receptors underwent amplifications in diverse mammalian lineages including humans, and the rapid sequence divergence of the ligand-binding domains between amplified paralogs is indicative of positive selection (88). It has been argued that both the diversity and the specificity of the bitter receptors in a species are driven by the need to properly discern poisons commonly encountered by the species (88). The ability to taste the bitter compound phenylthiocarbamide (PTC) is a polymorphic trait across all the major human populations. It has been suggested that this polymorphism is maintained in humans by the balancing selection on two major alleles, the taster and the non-taster, of the PTC taste receptor gene (89). As yet, it is unclear why balancing selection should favor the coexistence of both taster and non-taster phenotypes in humans.

Olfactory and pheromone receptor genes have undergone significant evolutionary changes in primates, particularly humans. However, the role of positive selection is much less clear here. In humans, olfaction remains important, but perhaps much less than that in many other mammals including non-human primates. Several studies corroborate this by showing that the human olfactory subgenome has undergone a rapid process of pseudogenization coincident with relaxed functional constraint (90,91). Some studies, however, suggest that a subset of human olfactory genes may have been the subject of positive selection (92,93). For the latter finding, it remains to be seen whether it represents real positive selection on some odorant receptors, or whether it simply reflects the difficulty in distinguishing between positive selection and relaxation of constraint. Indeed, the problem of differentiating positive selection from relaxed constraint, both of which are manifested as the rapid evolution of functional sequences, plagues all studies of positive selection, and is merely exaggerated in the context of olfactory genes. This conundrum is also found in pheromone receptors, where examples of both positive selection and relaxation of functional constraint have been reported (94). It is therefore too soon to state for certain what the overall message is for these genes.

Recent evidence has also shown the effect of positive selection on nociception (i.e. the perception of pain). The MRG nociceptive receptor family has undergone rampant amplification in both the human and murine lineages, and comparisons between paralogs in each lineage showed evidence of strong positive selection in the ligand-binding domains (95). The biological impact of this positive selection remains unclear. However, it seems plausible that selection has favored the functional evolution of this receptor family because of the need to constantly tune the nociceptive properties of a species in response to the changing environment.

Behavior

Many behavioral traits in humans have been shown to have a strong genetic basis, and some of the underlying genes are now beginning to be discovered. Some of these genes have shown evidence of positive selection. One of them was MAO-A, which has been associated with aggressive and impulsive behavior (96). Similarly, a gene associated with novelty-seeking and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, DRD4, has also been shown to have undergone recent positive selection (97,98). It is tempting to speculate on why these genes and their associated traits are under selection by invoking a plausible ‘just-so’ story, but the true reasons remain unclear and any speculation is likely premature.

One behavioral trait uniquely associated with humans is language. FOXP2 is a gene implicated in language abilities in humans, with mutations in this gene leading to a language disorder (99). Corroborating the role of FOXP2 in language are studies showing that the gene may also play a role in song-learning in birds (100). Evolutionary studies showed that FOXP2 has evolved faster in the human lineage than in several other mammalian species. This, coupled with human polymorphism data, suggests positive selection on this gene during recent human evolution (101,102). This is a tantalizing finding, though additional research is needed to assess whether the gene indeed plays a role in the origin of human language.

Brain development

The evolution of human anatomy is marked most prominently by the dramatic expansion of the brain. This is especially true in the last 2–3 million years of hominid evolution, during which the brain more than tripled in size (103,104). Two genes, ASPM and Microcephalin, have been implicated in the evolution of brain size. Both genes, when mutated, cause primary microcephaly, a disease characterized by a severe reduction in brain size without any other gross abnormalities (105,106). Given the important, and specific, role of these genes in regulating brain size during development, it is enticing to hypothesize that they are also involved in changes of brain size during evolution.

Going on this hunch, several groups investigated the evolution of ASPM and Microcephalin in primates and other mammals. They found that, indeed, both genes showed robust evidence of positive selection along the primate lineage leading to humans. In particular, this lineage had much higher rates of protein sequence evolution as compared with lineages leading to non-human primates (107111). For ASPM, the intensity of selection is strongest in later portions of the lineage leading to humans, i.e. from ape ancestors to humans. For Microcephalin, selection is most pronounced in earlier portions of the lineage, i.e. from simian ancestors to ape ancestors. This suggests that these two genes might have had differential contributions to brain evolution during different periods of the primate lineage leading to Homo sapiens.

Another story revolves around a gene expressed in facial musculature. Myosin heavy chain 16 (MYH16) is a muscle structural protein found primarily in masticatory muscles, and has been shown to have undergone inactivation in the human lineage, since its divergence from chimpanzees (112). This inactivation was estimated at around 2.5 million years ago, or roughly the time when Homo erectus arose, though there are contentions over the accuracy of this estimate. Homo erectus has significantly reduced masticatory musculature relative to its predecessors (and a coincident increase in cranial size). The loss of MYH16 has therefore been speculated to have contributed to smaller jaw muscles, which would perhaps free the constraint on the growth of the brain.

Miscellaneous

A number of genes that cannot be readily assigned to the above functional domains have also been linked to positive selection. Two of these, BRCA1 (113,114) and angiogenin (115), are involved in cancer. It is difficult to speculate what adaptive role these genes might have played during evolution. It is interesting to note, however, that BRCA1 knockout mice show profound defects in nervous system development such as failure of neural tube closure and severely disorganized brain growth (116). This result raises the possibility that positive selection on BRCA1 was actually directed towards its function in brain development rather than its activity as a tumor suppressor.

Evidence of positive selection has also been found in genes involved in energy production. Four of the cytochrome c oxidase subunits exhibit signatures of positive selection in primates (13,117,118). Patterns of mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) polymorphism in humans are consistent with a role of certain mutations in mtDNA having contributed to human adaptation to northern climates (119,120).

For some genes linked to positive selection, the functions are wholly unknown. One of these is morpheus, a gene family found only in humans and African apes, and for which the intensity of positive selection is unrivalled by any other mammalian gene (121). It is worth noting that the morpheus genes reside in segmental repeat regions of the genome, where frequent rearrangements (such as duplications, deletions and transpositions) produce extraordinary evolutionary lability (122). Another example is the FOXD4 gene family which, like morpheus, also reside in segmental repeat regions (123). It is possible that repeat regions of the genome, such as subtelomeric and pericentrimeric regions, may have a propensity for harboring rapidly evolving gene families.

Lately, large-scale studies have begun to uncover signatures of positive selection on a genomic scale. Two of these studies surveyed the polymorphism patterns across the human genome for signals of positive selective sweeps (124,125). Another pair of studies used human–chimpanzee comparison as a means to detect positive selection (93,126). Finally, genome-wide expression surveys suggested that the transcriptome of the brain might have changed more rapidly during human evolution than during the evolution of other lineages (127). The efficacy of this coarse-grained whole-genome studies for identifying individual positively selected genes remains to be seen. However, the approach can reveal genome-wide patterns of selection not visible to single-gene studies.

CONCLUSION

As a species, we are inherently curious about our evolutionary origins. One powerful approach for studying human origins at the molecular and genetic levels is to identify genes that have been the target of positive selection. With the rapid expansion of genomic data and the availability of increasingly sophisticated analytical tools, positively selected genes are being identified at an ever faster pace. Judging from the currently available data, it appears that these genes largely belong to a limited number of functional domains. For some of these, such as host–pathogen interactions and reproduction, the prevalence of positively selected genes is not surprising. For others, such as the regulation of brain development and behavior, the identification of positively selected genes may offer valuable insights into the evolution of those defining human-specific traits such as enlarged brain and highly advanced cognitive abilities.

A question of particular relevance to the understanding of human origins is whether the selective regimes driving human evolution are of exceptional quality or are more typical. One reason to suspect that selection on humans is exceptional is the remarkable rapidity with which some key traits were acquired. Allometrically scaled brain size, for example, grew by an order of magnitude since the lineage leading to humans diverge from old world monkeys some 20–25 million years ago, with a tripling in size occurring in just the last 2–3 million years of hominid evolution (104). Such a dramatic change within such a short period of time is extraordinary for any tissue system, but is particularly so for the brain, an exceedingly complex organ for which the growth in size is necessarily accompanied by the increase in organizational complexity (128). In the theoretical framework of ‘punctuated equilibrium’ (129), the enlargement of the human brain represents no less a stunning punctuation to an evolutionary equilibrium. The identification of positively selected genes, especially those relating to brain development and cognitive abilities, may offer molecular evidence for the exceptional strength of the selective pressure driving the evolution of our species.

The identification of positively selected genes may also have important implications for human medicine. Many diseases affect humans but not other animals (130). These include infectious diseases such as AIDS, as well as non-infectious conditions such as Alzheimer's disease. Likewise, many therapeutic strategies developed in animal models fail to work in humans. These dissimilarities between humans and other species are ultimately due to molecular programs that have diverged between lineages. Genes that have experienced positive selection may underlie some of these dissimilarities, and variants of these genes in humans may even participate directly in the pathogenesis of diseases.

Although a fair number of genes have already been identified as targets of positive selection during the evolution of humans and/or primates, these are likely to be the tip of the iceberg. As more genes are added and as alterations in gene sequences are mapped to functional changes, the study of positively selected genes may become a mainstream approach to the dissection of human biology and disease.

Table 1.

Genes showing evidence of positive selection in humans and/or primates

Category Gene Lineage References 
Host–pathogen interations ABO blood group Human/Primates 28,29 
 APOBEC3G Primates 25 
 Beta globin (HBBRecent human 40 
 Beta-defensin Primates 14,15 
 CD45 Catarrhines 12 
 CD59 Humans 13 
 Chemokine receptor 5 (CCR5Human 24,131 
 Cytidine monophospho-N-acetylneuraminic acid hydroxylase (CMAHHuman 34,35 
 Duffy blood group Recent human 41,42 
 Eosinophil cationic protein (ECPCatarrhines 27 
 Glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase (G6PDRecent human 4346 
 Glycophorin A Recent human/Primates 32,33 
 Immunoglobulin A Primates 22 
 Immunoglobulin heavy chain Mammals 20,21 
 Interleukin 2 (IL2Mammals 17,18 
 Interleukin 4 (IL4Human 19 
 Killer cell inhibitory receptors (KIRHuman 23 
 Major histocompatibility complex (MHCMammals 58 
 Pyrin Recent human 26 
 Rh blood group Hominids 31 
 Sialic acid-binding immunoglobulin-like lectin 9 (SIGLEC9Human 36 
 Sialic acid-binding immunoglobulin-like lectin-like protein 1(SIGLECL1Human 37 
 Tumor necrosis factor ligand superfamily, member 5 (TNFSF5Recent human 46 
Reproduction Chorionic gonadotropin Primates 60 
 Chromodomain protein Y (CDYPrimates 58 
 Deleted in azoospermia (DAZPrimates 55 
 Fertilin Primates 53 
 Oviductal glycoprotein 1 (OVGP1Mammals 59 
 Protamine 1 (PRM1Primates/Mammals 32,49 
 Protamine 2 (PRM2Primates/Mammals 32 
 Semenogelin 1 and 2 (SEMG1, SEMG2Primates 51 
 Sex-determining region Y (SRYPrimates/Mammals 57 
 Sperm associated cation channel 1 (CATSPER1Primates 52 
 Sperm protein associated with the nucleus, X-chromosome (SPANXHominids 56 
 Transition protein 2 (TNP2Primates/Mammals 32 
 Zona pellucida glycoprotein 2 (ZP2Mammals 59 
 Zona pellucida glycoprotein 3 (ZP3Mammals 59 
Dietary adaptation Alanine:glyoxylate aminotransferase Anthropoids 69 
 Aldehyde dehydrogenase 2 (ALDH2Recent human 70 
 Lactase (LCTRecent human 72,73 
 Lysozyme (LYZHuman/Primates 64,65 
Appearance Melanocortin 1 receptor (MC1RRecent human/Mammals 7981 
Sensory systems MAS-related genes (MRGPrimates 95 
 Olfactory receptors (ORHuman/Primates 92,93 
 Red and green opsins Human/Primates 85,86 
 Taste receptor type 1 member 3 (TAS1R3Primates 87 
 Taste receptor type 2 (TAS2RPrimates 88 
 Taste receptor type 2 member 38 (TAS2R38Recent human 89 
 Type 1 vomeronasal receptor-like (V1RLPrimates 94 
Behavior Dopamine receptor D4 (DRD4Primates 97,98 
 Forkhead box P2 (FOXP2Human 101,102 
 Monoamine oxidase A (MAOAHuman 96 
Brain anatomy Abnormal spindle-like microcephaly associated (ASPMHuman 107109 
 Microcephalin (MCPH1Human 110,111 
 Myosin heavy chain 16 (MYH16Hominine 112 
Miscellaneous Angiogenin (ANGPrimates 115 
 Breast cancer 1 (BRCA1Human 113,114 
 Cytochrome c oxidase subunit 4 (COX4Human/Primates 117 
 Cytochrome c oxidase subunit 7a (COX7APrimates 118 
 Cytochrome c oxidase subunit 7c (COX7CPrimates 13 
 Cytochrome c oxidase subunit 8 (COX8Human/Primates 13 
 Forkhead box D4 (FOXD4Hominids 123 
 Morpheus Hominids 121 
Category Gene Lineage References 
Host–pathogen interations ABO blood group Human/Primates 28,29 
 APOBEC3G Primates 25 
 Beta globin (HBBRecent human 40 
 Beta-defensin Primates 14,15 
 CD45 Catarrhines 12 
 CD59 Humans 13 
 Chemokine receptor 5 (CCR5Human 24,131 
 Cytidine monophospho-N-acetylneuraminic acid hydroxylase (CMAHHuman 34,35 
 Duffy blood group Recent human 41,42 
 Eosinophil cationic protein (ECPCatarrhines 27 
 Glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase (G6PDRecent human 4346 
 Glycophorin A Recent human/Primates 32,33 
 Immunoglobulin A Primates 22 
 Immunoglobulin heavy chain Mammals 20,21 
 Interleukin 2 (IL2Mammals 17,18 
 Interleukin 4 (IL4Human 19 
 Killer cell inhibitory receptors (KIRHuman 23 
 Major histocompatibility complex (MHCMammals 58 
 Pyrin Recent human 26 
 Rh blood group Hominids 31 
 Sialic acid-binding immunoglobulin-like lectin 9 (SIGLEC9Human 36 
 Sialic acid-binding immunoglobulin-like lectin-like protein 1(SIGLECL1Human 37 
 Tumor necrosis factor ligand superfamily, member 5 (TNFSF5Recent human 46 
Reproduction Chorionic gonadotropin Primates 60 
 Chromodomain protein Y (CDYPrimates 58 
 Deleted in azoospermia (DAZPrimates 55 
 Fertilin Primates 53 
 Oviductal glycoprotein 1 (OVGP1Mammals 59 
 Protamine 1 (PRM1Primates/Mammals 32,49 
 Protamine 2 (PRM2Primates/Mammals 32 
 Semenogelin 1 and 2 (SEMG1, SEMG2Primates 51 
 Sex-determining region Y (SRYPrimates/Mammals 57 
 Sperm associated cation channel 1 (CATSPER1Primates 52 
 Sperm protein associated with the nucleus, X-chromosome (SPANXHominids 56 
 Transition protein 2 (TNP2Primates/Mammals 32 
 Zona pellucida glycoprotein 2 (ZP2Mammals 59 
 Zona pellucida glycoprotein 3 (ZP3Mammals 59 
Dietary adaptation Alanine:glyoxylate aminotransferase Anthropoids 69 
 Aldehyde dehydrogenase 2 (ALDH2Recent human 70 
 Lactase (LCTRecent human 72,73 
 Lysozyme (LYZHuman/Primates 64,65 
Appearance Melanocortin 1 receptor (MC1RRecent human/Mammals 7981 
Sensory systems MAS-related genes (MRGPrimates 95 
 Olfactory receptors (ORHuman/Primates 92,93 
 Red and green opsins Human/Primates 85,86 
 Taste receptor type 1 member 3 (TAS1R3Primates 87 
 Taste receptor type 2 (TAS2RPrimates 88 
 Taste receptor type 2 member 38 (TAS2R38Recent human 89 
 Type 1 vomeronasal receptor-like (V1RLPrimates 94 
Behavior Dopamine receptor D4 (DRD4Primates 97,98 
 Forkhead box P2 (FOXP2Human 101,102 
 Monoamine oxidase A (MAOAHuman 96 
Brain anatomy Abnormal spindle-like microcephaly associated (ASPMHuman 107109 
 Microcephalin (MCPH1Human 110,111 
 Myosin heavy chain 16 (MYH16Hominine 112 
Miscellaneous Angiogenin (ANGPrimates 115 
 Breast cancer 1 (BRCA1Human 113,114 
 Cytochrome c oxidase subunit 4 (COX4Human/Primates 117 
 Cytochrome c oxidase subunit 7a (COX7APrimates 118 
 Cytochrome c oxidase subunit 7c (COX7CPrimates 13 
 Cytochrome c oxidase subunit 8 (COX8Human/Primates 13 
 Forkhead box D4 (FOXD4Hominids 123 
 Morpheus Hominids 121 

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