Domestic Cat’s DNA Mostly Decoded

cinnamoncat.jpgCinnamon the Cat, whose DNA was decoded, is a shy Abyssinian who is also highly inbred. That inbreeding made her a great candidate for genome sequencing.

The new data will, of course, lead to progress in treating feline diseases, but it will also help humans. Cats and humans share about 250 genetic diseases. Cinnamon carries the gene for retinitis pigmentosa—an eye disease that can lead to blindness—which affects 1 in 3,500 Americans.

Research on hereditary diseases will benefit, but research on infectious diseases will also benefit from the DNA sequencing. The feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) is related genetically to the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), which causes AIDS. Scientists also decoded “genomic stretches” from retroviruses with known links to cancer.

The sequencing results will help in a number of other ways too:

“(in) parentage testing, forensic analysis, and studies of evolution, including the reconstruction of domestication processes, fancy breed development, and ecological adaptation among the great roaring cats.”

It’s interesting how much impact an inbred cat from Missouri may have on scientific progress.

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