The data could help reveal secrets about our brains, evolution and disease

Summary :

Scientists have recently completed a massive project on mammalian evolution called the Zoonomia Project. In this research, over 100 researchers from around the world analyzed genetic information from 240 mammalian species to answer questions about human disease, mammalian evolution, and more. They have collected DNA from species across mammal’s family tree and read the slew of DNA “letters” that make up an animal’s genetic instruction book, or its genome. Here are some interesting findings of the research:

  1. Legendary Sled Dog’s Genetic Changes May Have Helped It Survive in an Extreme Environment.

Scientists analyzed DNA extracted from the remains of Balto, a sled dog that delivered diphtheria medicine to children in Nome, Alaska, in 1925. The research shows that sled dogs had adapted to the region’s harsh conditions and Balto had an enhanced ability to digest starch, carried fewer potentially damaging mutations, and was genetically healthy. Gene variants linked to bone and skin development gave Balto tough foot pads that helped him endure the cold and ice.

  1. Mammalian Evolution Ramped Up Well Before Dinosaurs Died Out.

The origin of placental mammals may trace back to 102 million years ago, the research suggests. The study supports a much longer timeline for different groups of mammals to arise, and mammalian evolution may have kicked off around the time that the continents were breaking apart.

  1. Mammalian Genomes Could Help Identify Genes That Drive Human Cancer.

One of the new studies examined mutations that occur in medulloblastoma, a malignant brain tumor that mainly affects kids. The researchers looked for mutations in spots in the mammalian genome that don’t typically change. The data from the Zoonomia Project could help pinpoint which mutations trigger or nudge along the disease.

  1. The Family Tree of Mammals Is Better Understood.

The data from the project offer insights into the family tree of mammals. They revealed which groups of mammals are more closely related than others and confirmed other relationships that were previously hypothesized.

  1. Genetic Changes May Help Explain How Some Species Survive in Extreme Environments.

The team compared the genomes of several species that live in extreme environments with those of related species that don’t. The research suggests that genetic changes may help explain how some species can survive in extreme environments.

In conclusion, the Zoonomia Project’s research findings show that there is still a lot to learn about mammalian evolution. The project has contributed to answering some important questions, including identifying genes that drive human cancer, revealing insights into the family tree of mammals, and genetic changes that help explain how some species survive in extreme environments.

CITATIONS

N.S. Upham and M.J. Landis. Genomics expands the mammalverseScience. Vol. 380, April 28, 2023, p. 359. doi: 10.1126/science.add2209.

I. Gallego Romero. Seeing humans through an evolutionary lens. Science. Vol. 380, April 28, 2023, p. 361. doi: 10.1126/science.adh0745.

G. Andrews et alMammalian evolution of human cis-regulatory elements and transcription factor binding sitesScience. Vol. 380, April 28, 2023, p. 362. doi: 10.1126/science.abn7930.

L. Moon et alComparative genomics of Balto, a famous historic dog, captures lost diversity of 1920s sled dogs. Science. Vol. 380, April 28, 2023, p. 363. doi: 10.1126/science.abn5887.

I.M. Kaplow et alRelating enhancer genetic variation across mammals to complex phenotypes using machine learningScience. Vol. 380, April 28, 2023, p. 364. doi: 10.1126/science.abm7993.

N.M. Foley et alA genomic timescale for placental mammal evolutionScience. Vol. 380, April 28, 2023, p. 365. doi: 10.1126/science.abl8189.

M.J. Christmas and I.M. Kaplow et alEvolutionary constraint and innovation across hundreds of placental mammalsScience. Vol. 380, April 28, 2023, p. 366. doi: 10.1126/science.abn3943K.

P.F. Sullivan et alLeveraging base-pair mammalian constraint to understand genetic variation and human disease. Science. Vol. 380, April 28, 2023, p. 367. doi: 10.1126/science.abn2937.

B.M. Kirilenko et alIntegrating gene annotation with orthology inference at scaleScience. Vol. 380, April 28, 2023, p. 368. doi: 10.1126/science.abn3107.

J.R. Xue et alThe functional and evolutionary impacts of human-specific deletions in conserved elementsScience. Vol. 380, April 28, 2023, p. 369. doi: 10.1126/science.abn2253.

K.C. Keough et al. Three-dimensional genome rewiring in loci with human accelerated regions. Science. Vol. 380, April 28, 2023, p. 370. doi: 10.1126/science.abm1696.

A.B. Osmanski et alInsights into mammalian TE diversity through the curation of 248 genome assembliesScience. Vol. 380, April 28, 2023, p. 371. doi: 10.1126/science.abn1430.

A.P. Wilder et alThe contribution of historical processes to contemporary extinction risk in placental mammalsScience. Vol. 380, April 28, 2023, p. 372. doi: 10.1126/science.abn5856.

D.P. Genereux et alA comparative genomics multitool for scientific discovery and conservation. Nature. Vol 587, November 11, 2020, p. 240. doi: 10.1038/s4156-020-2876-6.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *