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Genome scale view of great white shark uncovers unexpected and distinctive features
Date:11/19/2013

FORT LAUDERDALE-DAVIE, Fla. - The great white shark, a major apex predator made famous by the movie "Jaws," is one of the world's most iconic species capturing an extraordinary amount of public fascination. An intriguing question is what makes a white shark so distinctive? One way to address this is to explore the genetic makeup of this remarkable animal.

A new study by scientists from Nova Southeastern University's (NSU) Save Our Seas Shark Research Centre and Cornell University published in final form today in the journal BMC Genomics now undertakes the first large-scale exploration of the great white shark's genetic repertoire, and comes up with unexpected findings.

The researchers compared the transcriptome (i.e., the set of RNA sequences expressed by the organism's genes) from the white shark heart to the transcriptomes from the best studied fish research model (the zebrafish) and humans to look for similarities and significant differences that might explain the distinctiveness of the white shark. So they had a common comparative base, the researchers compared gene products that had known functions in all three species.

Contrary to expectations, the researchers found that the proportion of white shark gene products associated with metabolism had fewer differences from humans than zebrafish (a bony fish) an unexpected result given that bony fishes are evolutionarily much more closely related to sharks.

Indeed, more broadly speaking, the researchers were also surprised to find that other aspects of the white shark heart transcriptome, including molecular functions as well as the cellular locations of these functions, also showed greater similarity to human than zebrafish. Like many first looks at complex scientific questions, the unexpected results of this study raises more questions than provides answers.

"It's intriguing why there are these fewer differences in the proportion of gene
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Contact: Joe Donzelli
jdonzelli@nova.edu
954-262-2159
Nova Southeastern University
Source:Eurekalert  

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