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Woolly mammoth complete genome sequenced, showing adaptations to Arctic (free pdf)

Ben Creisler

A new paper in open access:

Vincent J. Lynch, Oscar C. Bedoya-Reina, Aakrosh Ratan, Michael Sulak,
Daniela I. Drautz-Moses, George H. Perry, Webb Miller & Stephan C.
Schuster (2015)
Elephantid Genomes Reveal the Molecular Bases of Woolly Mammoth
Adaptations to the Arctic.
Cell Reports (advance online publication)
DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.celrep.2015.06.027


•Complete genomes of three Asian elephants and two woolly mammoths
were sequenced
•Mammoth-specific amino acid changes were found in 1,642 protein-coding genes
•Genes with mammoth-specific changes are associated with adaptation to
extreme cold
•An amino acid change in TRPV3 may have altered temperature sensation
in mammoths


Woolly mammoths and living elephants are characterized by major
phenotypic differences that have allowed them to live in very
different environments. To identify the genetic changes that underlie
the suite of woolly mammoth adaptations to extreme cold, we sequenced
the nuclear genome from three Asian elephants and two woolly mammoths,
and we identified and functionally annotated genetic changes unique to
woolly mammoths. We found that genes with mammoth-specific amino acid
changes are enriched in functions related to circadian biology, skin
and hair development and physiology, lipid metabolism, adipose
development and physiology, and temperature sensation. Finally, we
resurrected and functionally tested the mammoth and ancestral elephant
TRPV3 gene, which encodes a temperature-sensitive transient receptor
potential (thermoTRP) channel involved in thermal sensation and hair
growth, and we show that a single mammoth-specific amino acid
substitution in an otherwise highly conserved region of the TRPV3
channel strongly affects its temperature sensitivity.

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