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Paper Chase

Minke whale genome and aquatic adaptation in cetaceans.

Nat. Genet.. 11 24, 2013;46(1):88-92.
Yim HS, Cho YS, Guang X, Kang SG, Jeong JY, Cha SS, Oh HM, Lee JH, Yang EC, Kwon KK, Kim YJ, Kim TW, Kim W, Jeon JH, Kim SJ, Choi DH, Jho S, Kim HM, Ko J, Kim H, Shin YA, Jung HJ, Zheng Y, Wang Z, Chen Y, Chen M, Jiang A, Li E, Zhang S, Hou H, Kim TH, Yu L, Liu S, Ahn K, Cooper J, Park SG, Hong CP, Jin W, Kim HS, Park C, Lee K, Chun S, Morin PA, O'Brien SJ, Lee H, Kimura J, Moon DY, Manica A, Edwards J, Kim BC, Kim S, Wang J, Bhak J, Lee HS, Lee JH.

1] Korea Institute of Ocean Science and Technology, Ansan, Republic of Korea. [2] Department of Marine Biotechnology, University of Science and Technology, Daejeon, Republic of Korea.


The shift from terrestrial to aquatic life by whales was a substantial evolutionary event. Here we report the whole-genome sequencing and de novo assembly of the minke whale genome, as well as the whole-genome sequences of three minke whales, a fin whale, a bottlenose dolphin and a finless porpoise. Our comparative genomic analysis identified an expansion in the whale lineage of gene families associated with stress-responsive proteins and anaerobic metabolism, whereas gene families related to body hair and sensory receptors were contracted. Our analysis also identified whale-specific mutations in genes encoding antioxidants and enzymes controlling blood pressure and salt concentration. Overall the whale-genome sequences exhibited distinct features that are associated with the physiological and morphological changes needed for life in an aquatic environment, marked by resistance to physiological stresses caused by a lack of oxygen, increased amounts of reactive oxygen species and high salt levels.