QLS Seminar - Lluis Quintana-Murci
From Neanderthals to COVID-19: genetic and evolutionary sources of immune response variation in humans
Lluis Quintana-Murci - Pasteur Insitute
Tuesday May 17, 12-1pm
Zoom Link: https://mcgill.zoom.us/j/85428056343
Abstract: Immune response is one of the functions that have been more strongly targeted by natural selection during human evolution. The evolutionary genetic dissection of the immune system has greatly helped to distinguish genes and functions that are essential, redundant or advantageous for human survival. It is also becoming increasingly clear that ancient admixture between early Eurasians with now-extinct hominins such as Neanderthals or Denisovans, or modern admixture between human populations, can be beneficial for human adaptation to environmental cues, including pathogen pressures. I will focus on how integrating population genetics and functional genomics of contemporary humans with ancient DNA from both ancient humans and extinct hominins — including ancient DNA data from different epochs — can inform about key immunological mechanisms of host defense and the detection of natural selection in real time. Furthermore, I will present our most recent data on the dissection of the genetic and evolutionary factors driving variation in human immune responses to respiratory RNA viruses, including SARS-CoV-2 and influenza A virus. Collectively, our results suggest that, while environmentally-driven differences in cellular composition are a major contributor to population variation in immunity to infection, genetic ancestry and adaptive evolution have also played a critical role in the differentiation of immune responses to viruses presently observed across major continental groups.