Navigation Links
Interaction of just 2 genes governs coloration patterns in mice
Date:8/13/2007

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. -- Biologists at Harvard University and the University of California, San Diego, have found that a simple interaction between just two genes determines the patterns of fur coloration that camouflage mice against their background, protecting them from many predators. The work, published this week in the journal PLoS Biology, marks one of the few instances in which specific genetic changes have been linked to an organism's ability to survive in the wild.

"Our work shows how changes in just a few genes can greatly alter an organism's appearance," says Hopi E. Hoekstra, John L. Loeb Associate Professor of the Natural Sciences in Harvard's Faculty of Arts and Sciences. "It also illuminates the pathway by which these two genes interact to produce distinctive coloration. There's reason to believe this simple pathway may be evolutionarily conserved across mammals that display lighter bellies and darker backs, from mice to tuxedo cats to German Shepherds."

Hoekstra and co-authors Cynthia C. Steiner at UCSD and Jesse Weber at Harvard studied Peromyscus, a mouse that is the most widespread mammal in North America. Within the last several thousand years, these mice have migrated from mainland Florida to barrier islands and dunes along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts, where they now live on white sand beaches. In the process, the beach mice's coats have become markedly lighter than that of their mainland brethren.

"In nature there is a tremendous amount of variation in color patterns among organisms, ranging from leopard spots to zebra stripes, that help individuals survive," says Steiner, a postdoctoral researcher in UCSD's Division of Biological Sciences. "However, we know surprisingly little about how these adaptive color patterns are generated. In this paper, we identify the genetic changes producing a simple color pattern that helps camouflage mice inhabiting the sandy dunes of Florida's Gulf and Atlantic coasts. These 'beach mice' have evolved a lighter pigmentation than their mainland relatives, a coloration that helps camouflage them from predators that include owls, herons, and hawks."

Previous research has shown that such predators, all of which hunt by sight, will preferentially catch darker mice on the white sand beaches, providing a powerful opportunity for natural selection to evolve increased camouflage.

Through a detailed genomic analysis, Hoekstra, Steiner, and Weber identified two pigmentation genes, for the melanocortin-1 receptor (Mc1r) and an agouti signaling protein (Agouti) that binds to this receptor and turns it off. A single amino-acid mutation in Mc1r gene can weaken the receptor's activity, or a mutation in the Agouti gene can increase the amount of protein present without changing the protein's sequence, also reducing Mc1r activity and yielding lighter pigmentation.

Both genes affect the type and amount of melanin in individual hairs. When both genes are turned on, the mouse is dark in color. A mutation that changes either gene leads to a somewhat blonder mouse, but it is the combination of mutations in both genes that produces a mouse very light in color.

"Thus, two different types of mutations in two different genes each contribute to the light coloration of beach mice," Hoekstra says. "This work represents a first step into understanding how unique patterns of fur color are produced via a simple interaction between genes."


'/>"/>

Contact: Steve Bradt
steve_bradt@harvard.edu
617-496-8070
Harvard University
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. Virus-host interactions at sea effect global photosynthesis
2. Future diabetes drugs may target new protein interaction
3. Computational verification of protein-protein interactions by orthologous co-expression
4. Confirmation of human protein interaction data by human expression data
5. Physical and functional interaction of key cell growth molecules linked to cancer
6. Complex gene interactions account for autism risk
7. Image of myosin-actin interaction revealed in cover story of Molecular Cell
8. A real time look at interactions between RNA and proteins
9. U of MN researchers develop way to visualize synchronized interactions of nerve cells in the brain
10. Biologists visualize protein interaction that may initiate viral infection
11. Biologists develop genome-wide map of miRNA-mRNA interactions
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:3/6/2017)... , March 6, 2017 ... sales technology, today announced Predictive Sales Coach TM ... infusing actionable sales intelligence into Salesforce. This unique ... enable their sales organizations with deep knowledge of ... allow for intelligent engagement. Predictive Sales Coach extends ...
(Date:3/2/2017)... 2, 2017 Summary This report ... Merck KGaA and its partnering interests and activities since ... Description The Partnering Deals and Alliance since 2010 ... of one of the world,s leading life sciences companies. ... purchase to ensure inclusion of the most up to ...
(Date:3/2/2017)... Australian stem cell and regenerative medicine company, ... an agreement with the Monash Lung Biology Network, a ... and Department of Pharmacology at Monash University, ... to support the use of Cymerus™ mesenchymal stem cells ... Asthma is a chronic, long term lung condition recognised ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:3/22/2017)... York , March 22, 2017 ... largely fragmented, states a research report by Transparency Market ... Pfizer Inc., Amgen Inc., and AbbVie Inc., accounted for ... 2015. The prominent players in this market are focusing ... their product portfolio, which is likely to lead to ...
(Date:3/22/2017)... ... ... Premier executive recruitment firm, Slone Partners, is proud to have been named a Top ... Hunt Scanlon Media is one of the most respected life science publications in the ... sector. , “It is a great honor for Slone Partners to be part of ...
(Date:3/22/2017)... , ... March 21, 2017 , ... The Conference Forum ... (CMO Summit) to be held on May 10-11, 2017, at the Colonnade Hotel in ... specifically for Chief Medical Officer peer-to-peer learning, benchmarking and support. , “The Chief Medical ...
(Date:3/22/2017)... and PETACH TIKVAH, Israel , March ... a leading developer of adult stem cell technologies for ... Chief Executive Officer, will provide an update on new ... nd Annual Neuroscience Biopartnering and Investment Forum, being ... York Academy of Sciences. ...
Breaking Biology Technology: