Perspective ARTICLE

Front. Genet., 29 August 2014 | http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fgene.2014.00271

Gene–environment interactions in human health: case studies and strategies for developing new paradigms and research methodologies

  • Department of Biology and W. Montague Cobb Research Laboratory, Howard University, Washington, DC, USA

The synergistic effects of genes and the environment on health are explored in three case studies: adult lactase persistence, autism spectrum disorders, and the metabolic syndrome, providing examples of the interactive complexities underlying these phenotypes. Since the phenotypes are the initial targets of evolutionary processes, understanding the specific environmental contexts of the genetic, epigenetic, and environmental changes associated with these phenotypes is essential in predicting their health implications. Robust databases must be developed on the local scale to deconstruct both the population substructure and the unique components of the environment that stimulate geographically specific changes in gene expression patterns. To produce these databases and make valid predictions, new, locally focused, and information-dense models are needed that incorporate data on evolutionary ecology, environmental complexity, local geographic patterns of gene expression, and population substructure.

Keywords: LP genetics, ASDs epigenetics, MetS, genomic–epigenomic-environment interactions, population substructure

Citation: Jackson FLC (2014) Gene–environment interactions in human health: case studies and strategies for developing new paradigms and research methodologies. Front. Genet. 5:271. doi: 10.3389/fgene.2014.00271

Received: 25 April 2014; Paper pending published: 17 July 2014;
Accepted: 23 July 2014; Published online: 29 August 2014.

Edited by:

Jeff Schwartz, Griffith University, Australia

Reviewed by:

Ian C. G. Weaver, Dalhousie University, Canada
Jeff Schwartz, Griffith University, Australia

Copyright © 2014 Jackson. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) or licensor are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

*Correspondence: Fatimah L. C. Jackson, Department of Biology and W. Montague Cobb Research Laboratory, Howard University, 415 College Street, NW 130 E. Just Hall (Biological Sciences), Washington, DC, USA e-mail: fatimah.jackson@howard.edu