Navigation Links
The genetics of the white horse unraveled
Date:7/20/2008

The white horse is an icon for dignity which has had a huge impact on human culture across the world. An international team led by researchers at Uppsala University has now identified the mutation causing this spectacular trait and show that white horses carry an identical mutation that can be traced back to a common ancestor that lived thousands of years ago. The study is interesting for medical research since this mutation also enhance the risk for melanoma. The paper is published on July 20 on the website of Nature Genetics.

The great majority of white horses carry the dominant mutation Greying with age. A Grey horse is born coloured (black, brown or chestnut) but the greying process starts already during its first year and they are normally completely white by six to eight years of age but the skin remains pigmented. Thus, the process resembles greying in humans but the process is ultrafast in these horses. The research presented now demonstrates that all Grey horses carry exactly the same mutation which must have been inherited from a common ancestor that lived thousands of years ago.

- It is a fascinating thought that once upon a time a horse was born that turned grey and subsequently white and the people that observed it were so fascinated by its spectacular appearance that they used the horse for breeding so that the mutation could be transmitted from generation to generation, says Leif Andersson who led the study. Today about one horse in ten carries the mutation for Greying with age.

It is obvious that humans across the world have greatly valued these white horses as documented by the rich collection of stories and paintings featuring white horses. In the paper the white horse as an icon for dignity is illustrated by reproducing a painting from the late 17th century of the Swedish king Karl XI on his white horse Brilliant.

The Grey horse is also very interesting from a medical point of view since the mutation also predisposes for development of melanoma. About 75% of Grey horses older than 15 years of age have a benign form of melanoma that in some cases develops into a malignant melanoma. Thus, the study reported today has also given new insight in a molecular pathway that may lead to tumour development.

We propose that the Grey mutation stimulates growth of melanocytes and that this leads to a premature loss of the melanocyte stem cells needed for hair pigmentation whereas the mutation promotes an expansion of some of the melanocytes causing skin pigmentation, says Leif Andersson.

Domestic animals constitute extraordinary models for evolution of biological diversity as already recognized by Charles Darwin. The white horse is a beautiful illustration of the importance of regulatory mutations as a major underlying mechanism for phenotypic diversity within and between species. The Grey mutation does not change any protein structure but it affects the genetic regulation of two genes. The researchers found that the white horses carry an extra copy of a DNA segment located in one of these genes.

It is very likely that regulatory mutations like the one we found in these white horses constitute the dominating class of mutations explaining differences between breeds of domestic animals as well as between species like humans and chimpanzee, concludes Leif Andersson.


'/>"/>

Contact: Leif Andersson
leif.andersson@imbim.uu.se
46-070-514-490
Uppsala University
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. Genetics determine optimal drug dose of common anticoagulant
2. American College of Medical Genetics responds to new FDA labeling decision for warfarin
3. Rutgers Genetics receives $7.8 million for autism research
4. UD leads $5.3-million research project on rice epigenetics
5. UD leads $5.3-million research project on rice epigenetics
6. Wasp genetics study suggests altruism evolved from maternal behavior
7. Maynard Olson receives $500,000 Gruber Genetics Prize
8. UBC discovery unlocks tree genetics, gives new hope for pine beetle defense
9. Ecologists, material scientists pursue genetics of diatoms elegant, etched casing
10. Scientists achieve major genetics breakthrough
11. Environmental epigenetics has potential for preventing and treating disease
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:5/23/2017)... the first robotic gym for the rehabilitation and functional motor sense evaluation ... Genoa, Italy . The first 30 robots will be available from ... . The technology was developed and patented at the IIT laboratories ... Technology thanks to a 10 million euro investment from entrepreneur Sergio Dompè. ... ...
(Date:5/16/2017)... DALLAS , May 16, 2017   ... for health organizations, and MD EMR Systems ... certified development partner for GE, have established a ... Patient Portal product and the GE Centricity™ products, ... Centricity EMR. These new integrations ...
(Date:4/24/2017)... 2017 Janice Kephart , former ... Strategy Partners, LLP (IdSP) , today issues the ... Trump,s March 6, 2017 Executive Order: Protecting ... can be instilled with greater confidence, enabling the ... refugee applications are suspended by until at least ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:10/12/2017)... ... October 12, 2017 , ... ... of a complex biological network, a depiction of a system of linkages and ... Dmitry Korkin, PhD, associate professor of computer science at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) ...
(Date:10/12/2017)... (PRWEB) , ... October 12, 2017 , ... ... Surgical Wound Market with the addition of its newest module, US Hemostats & ... market for thrombin hemostats, absorbable hemostats, fibrin sealants, synthetic sealants and biologic sealants ...
(Date:10/11/2017)... ... October 11, 2017 , ... The ... context, enabling overexpression experiments and avoiding the use of exogenous expression plasmids. The ... transformative for performing systematic gain-of-function studies. , This complement to loss-of-function studies, ...
(Date:10/11/2017)... -- VMS BioMarketing, a leading provider of patient support solutions, has ... (CNE) network, which will launch this week. The VMS CNEs ... professionals to enhance the patient care experience by delivering peer-to-peer ... care professionals to help women who have been diagnosed and ... ...
Breaking Biology Technology: