Yak Genome: An insight of high altitude adaptation

Yak Genome: An insight of high altitude adaptation

Tibetan Yak

In an article entitled, “The yak genome and adaptation to life at high altitude”, published online in July 1, 2012, issue of Nature Genetics 1-6, the lead author Qiang Qiu with forty eight other associates from sixteen research groups sequenced the genome of a domestic yak (Bos grunniens) applying high-throughput sequencing technology. The genomic data yielded 2,657Mb draft yak genome assembly with 65-fold coverage. Moreover, Transcriptome sequencing was performed on RNA samples isolating from heart, liver, brain, stomach, and lung tissues. On the basis of transcriptome data, it was projected that yak genome contains 22,282 protein-coding genes and 2.2 million heterozygous SNPs. Furthermore, comparative genomic analyses were carried out between yak and cattle to comprehend the evolutionary adaptation of yak to the high-altitude. However, it was observed that many of the yak and cattle genes have remained very similar bearing 45 percent protein identity and 99.5 percent protein similarity though the divergence between two animals was estimated to be around 4.9 million years ago. Additionally, an enrichment of protein domains associated to the extracellular environment and hypoxic stress was also observed. It was revealed that the orthologous genes in yak related to hypoxia and nutrition metabolism had undergone absolutely selected and swift evolution. Apparently, the study on high-altitude adaptation may assist to develop current understanding on treatment, prevention of altitude sickness and other hypoxia-related diseases in humans. Moreover, the yak genome provided a solid basis to speed up the genetic advancement of milk and meat production of this animal. [summarized by Samsad Razzaque]

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