In an article published in Nature Communications, a team of researchers from Tanzania, Kenya, the US, and the UK sequenced the genomes of two Masai giraffes (Giraffa camelopardalis tippelskirchi), and one okapi, (Okapia johnstoni), in order to explain some of the unique features of the giraffe. “The team collected DNA samples from two female Masai giraffes and one fetal male okapi and constructed pair-ended libraries with the Illumina TruSeq DNA PCR-Free library preparation kit. They sequenced the samples on an Illumina HiSeq platform, and aligned initial sequence reads to 19,030 cattle reference transcripts in order to predict homologous genes. This approach yielded 17,210 giraffe genes and 17,048 okapi genes.” Apart from identifying 70 genes that displayed multiple signs of adaptation (MSA), the researchers also identified genes in the HOX, NOTCH, and FGF signaling pathways, which specifically regulates both skeletal and cardiovascular development in the giraffe and Okapi.
Link to the article
Reference: Agaba M, Ishengoma E, Miller WC, McGrath BC, Hudson CN, Bedoya Reina OC, et al. Giraffe genome sequence reveals clues to its unique morphology and physiology. Nat Commun. 2016; 7, 11519. doi:10.1038/ncomms11519>