Dietary changes associated to shifts in subsistence strategies during human evolution may have induced new selective pressures on phenotypes, as currently held for lactase persistence. Similar hypotheses exist for arylamine N-acetyltransferase 2 (NAT2) mediated acetylation capacity, a well-known pharmacogenetic trait with wide inter-individual variation explained by polymorphisms in the NAT2 gene. The environmental causative factor (if any) driving its evolution is as yet unknown, but significant differences in prevalence of acetylation phenotypes are found between hunter-gatherer and food-producing populations, both in sub-Saharan Africa and worldwide, and between agriculturalists and pastoralists in Central Asia. These two subsistence strategies also prevail among sympatric populations of the African Sahel, but knowledge on NAT2 variation among African pastoral nomads was up to now very scarce. Here we addressed the hypothesis of different selective pressures associated to the agriculturalist or pastoralist lifestyles having acted on the evolution of NAT2 by sequencing the gene in 287 individuals from five pastoralist and one agriculturalist Sahelian populations.
see on Pubmed