A much-celebrated story of positive selection in the human genome is the 32-bp deletion in the chemokine receptor CCR5, a variant that confers resistance to AIDS. This variant was postulated to be a relatively recent response to plague or smallpox. New research shows that the frequency of CCR5-Δ32 in Bronze Age samples is similar to that seen today, pushing the observed age of the allele back to at least 3000 and possibly 5000 years ago. Interestingly, the extent of heterozygosity, differentiation across populations and linkage disequilibrium in the CCR5 region is not dissimilar to other human genomic regions, challenging claims of recent positive selection.
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