Evolutionary Genetic Signatures of Selection on Bone-Related Variation within Human and Chimpanzee Populations

Daryn A. Stover, Genevieve Housman, Anne C. Stone, Michael S. Rosenberg, Brian C. Verrelli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Bone strength and the incidence and severity of skeletal disorders vary significantly among human populations, due in part to underlying genetic differentiation. While clinical models predict that this variation is largely deleterious, natural population variation unrelated to disease can go unnoticed, altering our perception of how natural selection has shaped bone morphologies over deep and recent time periods. Here, we conduct the first comparative population-based genetic analysis of the main bone structural protein gene, collagen type I α 1 (COL1A1), in clinical and 1000 Genomes Project datasets in humans, and in natural populations of chimpanzees. Contrary to predictions from clinical studies, we reveal abundant COL1A1 amino acid variation, predicted to have little association with disease in the natural population. We also find signatures of positive selection associated with intron haplotype structure, linkage disequilibrium, and population differentiation in regions of known gene expression regulation in humans and chimpanzees. These results recall how recent and deep evolutionary regimes can be linked, in that bone morphology differences that developed among vertebrates over 450 million years of evolution are the result of positive selection on subtle type I collagen functional variation segregating within populations over time.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number183
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 21 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • BMD
  • COL1A1
  • adaptation
  • bone disease
  • exon duplication
  • osteoporosis
  • type I collagen

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics
  • Genetics(clinical)


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