AsianScientist (Aug. 29, 2016) – A genetic basis for short tails in Japanese Bobtail and Chinese short-tailed feral cats was identified in a study recently published in Scientific Reports.
Cats with shortened and kinked tails were first recorded in the Malayan archipelago by Charles Darwin in 1868 and remain quite common today in Southeast and East Asia.
Previous research has identified that the short tailed or tail-less trait in the Manx and several bobtail cat breeds is due to a mutation in the T-box gene. However, it has been shown that this gene is not associated with the short-tailed trait in the Japanese Bobtail, indicating that at least one additional gene is involved in determining tail length in domestic cat breeds.
Principal Investigator Luo Shu-Jin and colleagues from Peking University in China conducted a genetic analysis of 13 cats from two generations and screened an additional 233 unrelated cats, including 126 feral cats from Asia and 107 breed cats, for genetic variations linked to tail length.
The authors found that cats with one copy of the HES7 gene, with a mutation in which the amino acid valine is replaced with alanine, exhibited shortened tails to varying degrees. This ranged from a slight shortening, where the tail was approximately 25 cm long, to tails between 10-20 cm long.
They also found that approximately one-third of the short-tailed cats from China examined did not carry the genetic variations in HES7 or T-box associated with short tails, which may suggest the existence of additional genes that contribute to short tails in these breeds of cat.
The article can be found at: Xu et al. (2016) Whole Genome Sequencing Identifies a Missense Mutation in HES7 Associated with Short Tails in Asian Domestic Cats.
Source: Scientific Reports; Photo: torbakhopper/Flickr/CC.
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