Altitude adaptation in Tibetans caused by introgression of Denisovan-like DNA

Co-Authors: Emilia Huerta-Sanchez (first author), Rasmus Nielsen and 23 others.

Many Tibetans have a variant of the EPAS1 gene that facilitates survival in very high altitudes. In this paper, we show that the Tibetan variant of EPAS1 is the same as that of the Denisovans, an extinct hominid from which we only know the morphology and a tooth and its genome sequence. This supports our hypothesis that Denisovans have interbred with an ancestor of the modern Tibetans, and that the high-altitude allele increased in frequency due to natural selection.

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