An international team led by Chinese scientists explained why deer are less likely to develop cancer, how reindeer adapt to harsh environments and how they produce more vitamin D. The answers may have far-reaching medical implications.
A trio of reports published on Thursday in the journal Science mapped the genomes of 44 species of ruminants, a group of mammals with many stomachs, including deer, cows and goats.
Researchers from more than 20 organizations, including Northwestern Polytechnic University, Northwest A & F University and the Chinese Academy of Sciences have published their initial findings with the Ruminant Genome Project, producing an evolutionary tree of the ruminant group.
They also found significant declines in ruminant populations almost 100,000 years ago when humans migrated out of Africa, revealing the impact of the first humans on ruminant species.
In the second article, the researchers used the map of the genome and found that horn growth – up to 2.5 centimeters per day – was only possible when these ruminants used cancer-bound molecular structures and highly expressed tumor suppression. genes. The findings lend a clue to a new mechanism of protection against cancer.
Reindeer that thrive in adverse Arctic conditions, such as extreme cold and prolonged periods of light and dark, were scrutinized in the third article. They eventually acquired a genetic mutation that deprives the reindeer of circadian clocks so that they can live without sleep disorder through long nights and long days.
It may inspire scientists to design a drug to cure sleeping sickness or help astronauts adjust their biological clocks during space travel.
In addition, the researchers revealed how genes with vitamin D use in reindeer evolved to help them absorb more calcium, which made rapid antler growth possible. This may be a potential molecular mechanism used to treat fragile bone disease, according to the study.
The results provide vital information on genetic adaptations that are responsible for the biological success of ruminant animals, said Stanford University researcher Yang Yunzhi, who wrote a prospective article in the journal to review the three articles.
"Understanding the evolution of ruminant animals can enhance our research in regenerative medicine, tumor biology, sleep disorders and osteoporosis, and can also help us create new herds in the future," said Wang Wen, a researcher at the Kunming Institute of Zoology. under the Chinese Academy of Sciences, told Xinhua. Enditem