Table: Association between DNA polymorphisms and reaction time in wrestlers (n = 20)
An international paper saw light in Biology in Sport.
The participating sides are a number of Russian institutions (including Kazan Federal University), University Hospital Bonn, Liverpool John Moores University, and Institute of Sport in Warsaw.
The idea of the research first came to Ildus Ahmetov (Senior Lecturer in Genetics and Epigenetics, Research Institute for Sport and Exercise Sciences, Liverpool John Moores University) in 2017 as a part of a large genome sequencing project in Russia. A group of twenty male wrestlers was invited to serve as a test batch.
Eugenia Boulygina, Research Associate at the Omics Technologies Lab of Kazan Federal University, has been working on human DNA analysis since 2016. She joined this particular project in 2018.
As she comments, this paper explains the results of the analysis of whole genome sequences of elite athletes – young males of Tatar ethnicity, students of a local sports academy in Kazan. As the research showed, they have about 4.5 million single nucleotide polymorphisms, which is approximately the same as in other ethnic groups. Several hundred genes have polymorphisms which can lead to a loss of function of proteins, and about 19 of them are homozygous, which means that the genes, where they are found, are theoretically non-functional.
Among other tests, reaction time was also researched. Earlier works on sports genetics described 1,884 polymorphisms associated with reaction time. This analysis confirmed such association for 4 polymorphisms in genes APC, KIF27, TMEM229A, and LRRN3, which partake in neurodevelopmental processes and motor activity. Association between reaction time and variants rs518013 in APC and rs80054135 in LRRN3 was also confirmed for this batch of tested subjects.
Sports geneticists direct their efforts at linking genetic variants to different fitness parameters, such as strength, stamina, agility, reaction time, etc. The paper shows that wrestlers have variants associated with reaction time, which is essential in combat sports and game sports. Having obtained such genetic evaluations for a person, an experienced coach can give advice on which sport to prefer and which skill should be honed during training.
Genomic data is an endless pool of information for analysis – every day there is new data about genetics and predisposition to ailments or some traits. The team plans to concentrate on searching pathological genetic variants, i. e. those which can disable protein functioning or just lead to an absence of a particular protein. It's interesting to find out which genes have such anomalies and how the distribution of these mutations influences athletic achievements.
Whole genome sequencing of elite athletes
Source text and translation: Eugenia Boulygina, Yury Nurmeev