Date of Award

Spring 5-5-2014

Document Type


First Advisor

Derek C. Braun

Second Advisor

Kathleen S. Arnos


Because the ability to resist infectious disease has been a constant factor in the survival of humans over the past few millennia, disease resistance has played a crucial role in shaping the genes of the immune system. One of these genes, FUT2, is suggested to have evolved as an adaption reinforcing the immune system, although the specific function of its Lewis b and ABO blood group antigens in body fluids and secretions are still unclear. However, nonfunctional alleles are present in populations worldwide at frequencies higher than expected under neutral evolution. To elucidate the role of FUT2 in the immune system, my analysis examined the nucleotide variation of FUT2 using an array of neutrality tests and sequence data from the 1000 Genomes Project. My analysis, like those preceding mine, was inconclusive with respect to the possible role of FUT2 in the immune system. It is possible that FUT2 is undergoing directional selection in Asians or that the gene is undergoing no natural selection at all. Either way, both conclusions have direct implications for public health, but this needs to be investigated further to decide what the implications are.



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