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How the cat got his blotches
Date:9/20/2012

g expressed at high levels in the darkly colored hair cells. The researchers thus suggest that the Taqpep gene helps to establish either a periodic pattern for stripes or a spotted or blotched pattern, by determining the level of Edn3 expressed in each skin area at an early stage of the cat's development.

According to Barsh, discovery of new genetic pathways and mechanisms is the foundation for understanding the blueprint encoded in any genome, including humans. Studies with fruit flies and roundworms have revealed principles that govern how cancer cells live and die, he noted. "Uncovering new biologic principles in animals that are more closely related to humans, like cats, dogs and laboratory mice, may reveal unexpected insights with far-reaching implications for human biology and disease," he added.

Next up for the group: figuring out the exact mechanism by which Taqpep and Edn3 function, and looking at why some animals like lions, cougars, and the Abyssinian breed of domestic cat, don't have noticeable patterns regardless of their Taqpep status. "We know there's a mutation that suppresses pattern formation in some cats," said Barsh. "We'd like to investigate that mechanism as well."


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Contact: Holly Ralston or Chris Gunter
hralston@hudsonalpha.org
256-508-8954
HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology
Source:Eurekalert

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