This article presents research into the utility of analyzing COMT gene polymorphism in North African populations during pathologies, drug responses, and forensic investigations.
The COMT gene encodes for catechol-O-methyl-transferase, an enzyme playing a major role in regulation of synaptic catecholamine neurotransmitters. Investigating 4 markers of the COMT gene (rs2020917, rs4818, rs4680, rs9332377) in 6 Tunisian populations and a pool of Libyans. Our objective was to determine the distribution of allelic, genotypic and haplotypic frequencies by comparison to other populations of the 1000 genomes project and 59 populations from the Kidd Lab dataset. The allelic frequencies established for these SNPs in the North African populations are similar to those of Europeans and South Asians. Linkage disequilibrium between these SNPs and haplotypes frequencies are different between populations whose clustering in principal components analysis (PCA) according to their geographic origin was more significant using haplotypic frequencies. COMT activity prediction by haplotypes genotyping could be limited to rs4818-rs4680 micro-haplotypes. The Low activity haplotype (CG) displays the highest frequency in African populations (55%), in the 59 Kidd Lab populations the author found also that Sub-Saharan Africans, Native Americans, and some East Asian and Pacific Island populations all have frequencies in the 50–81% range for (CG) where as its lowest frequency was found in Europeans (10%), this results have been also confirmed for Southwest Asians. North Africans and South Asians with intermediate frequencies have approximately similar values (20% and 25%). Europeans show the highest frequencies of haplotypes with predicted High and Medium activity in contrast to Africans. North Africans and South Asians present similar results for all the category of the COMT activity prediction by haplotypes genotyping. The high level of genetic diversity of COMT haplotypes, not only allows distinction between populations according to their history settlement, origin and ethnicity, it constitutes a basis for studies of association of the COMT gene polymorphism with pathologies, drugs response and for forensic investigation in North African populations. (Published Abstract Provided)
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