Elephantid Genomes Reveal the Molecular Bases of Woolly Mammoth Adaptations to the Arctic

Vincent J. Lynch, Oscar C. Bedoya-Reina, Aakrosh Ratan, Michael Sulak, Daniela I. Drautz-Moses, George H. Perry, Webb Miller, Stephan C. Schuster

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Abstract

Woolly mammoths and living elephants are characterized by major phenotypic differences that have allowed them to live in very different environments. To identify the genetic changes that underlie the suite of woolly mammoth adaptations to extreme cold, we sequenced the nuclear genome from three Asian elephants and two woolly mammoths, and we identified and functionally annotated genetic changes unique to woolly mammoths. We found that genes with mammoth-specific amino acid changes are enriched in functions related to circadian biology, skin and hair development and physiology, lipid metabolism, adipose development and physiology, and temperature sensation. Finally, we resurrected and functionally tested the mammoth and ancestral elephant TRPV3 gene, which encodes a temperature-sensitive transient receptor potential (thermoTRP) channel involved in thermal sensation and hair growth, and we show that a single mammoth-specific amino acid substitution in an otherwise highly conserved region of the TRPV3 channel strongly affects its temperature sensitivity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)217-228
Number of pages12
JournalCell Reports
Volume12
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 14 2015

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All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)

Cite this

Lynch, V. J., Bedoya-Reina, O. C., Ratan, A., Sulak, M., Drautz-Moses, D. I., Perry, G. H., Miller, W., & Schuster, S. C. (2015). Elephantid Genomes Reveal the Molecular Bases of Woolly Mammoth Adaptations to the Arctic. Cell Reports, 12(2), 217-228. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.celrep.2015.06.027