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This week in Science: the runner's gene

Posted By: Labrat
Date: Tuesday, 18 September 2007, at 10:18 a.m.

And here's to fuel the nature (Coggan) vs nurture (Byrn) "debate" ;-)

(same deal, if you want the PDF: fbiemar[at]berkeley[dot]edu)
A mutation commonly found in endurance athletes may have been favoured by evolution because it aids efficient muscle function, say researchers in Australia. More than a billion humans worldwide are predicted to have the mutation, causing them to lack a 'fast' muscle-fibre protein known as alpha-actinin-3. Absence of this protein seems to boost stamina, as metabolic resources are diverted onto a slower but more efficient metabolic pathway.

Researchers led by Kathryn North of the Children's Hospital at Westmead in Sydney found that mice lacking alpha-actinin-3 ran on average 33% farther on a treadmill than normal mice before reaching exhaustion. They also show that the human version of the mutation is surrounded by well-conserved DNA sequence, suggesting that it has been favoured by natural selection.

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