Major gene for percent of oxygen saturation of arterial hemoglobin in Tibetan highlanders



This report employs a statistical genetic approach to analyze quantitative oxygen transport variables in a high-altitude (4,850–5,450 m) native Tibetan population and demonstrates the presence of a major gene influencing % O2 saturation of arterial hemoglobin. This result suggests the hypothesis that individuals with the dominant allele for higher % O2 saturation have a selective advantage at high altitude. Studies of the biologically distinctive Himalayan and Andean populations have greatly influenced thinking about ongoing human evolution and adaptation; this is the first statistical evidence for a major gene enhancing oxygen transport in a highaltitude native population. © 1994 wiley-Liss, Inc.