Scientists one step closer to understanding why leopards can’t change their spots

January 14th, 2010 - 4:57 pm ICT by ANI  

Washington, January 14 (ANI): Scientists appear to be one step closer to understanding why leopards can’t change their spots after demonstrating the involvement of at least three different genes in the emergence of stripes, spots, and other markings on cats.

Eduardo Eizirik, a researcher involved in the work from the Pontifical Catholic University of Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil, also determined the genomic location of two of these genes, which may help understand various human skin disorders.

Eizirik said: “We hope that the study opens up the possibility of directly investigating the genes involved in pattern formation (i.e., the establishment of stripes, spots, and other markings) on the skin of mammals, including their structure, function, and regulation.

“From these studies, we hope to understand how the different coat patterns have evolved in different mammalian groups, and to be able to investigate their roles in adaptation to different environments, such as their importance for camouflage in wild cat species.”

Mark Johnston, Editor-in-Chief of the journal Genetics, added: “Coat color and markings of animals are obvious traits that have long attracted the interest of geneticists and this study in cats may ultimately help us better understand the genetics behind hair and skin color in other mammals. In turn, this understanding could lead to new therapeutic strategies to correct skin problems in people.”

The study was published in the journal Genetics. (ANI)

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