Genome of longest-living mammal sequenced
British scientists have sequenced the genome of the bowhead whale, estimated to live for more than 200 years with low incidence of disease.
London: British scientists have sequenced the genome of the bowhead whale, estimated to live for more than 200 years with low incidence of disease.
They compared the genome with those from other mammals, with a shorter life span, to discover genetic differences unique to the bowhead whale.
The findings may offer new insights into how animals and humans could achieve a long and healthy life.
"We believe that different species evolved different 'tricks' to have a long lifespan, and by discovering those used by the bowhead whale we may be able to apply these findings to humans in order to fight age-related diseases," said Joao Pedro de Magalhaes from the University of Liverpool in Britain.
It is thought that large mammals, such as whales, with over 1,000 times more cells than humans, have a lower risk of developing cancer.
Sequencing of the bowhead whale genome showed changes in genetic information that related to cell division, DNA repair, disease and ageing that with further analysis, could help inform future studies in longevity and cancer resistance.
The research may also provide clues into why there is significant variance in the size of some mammals.
"Whale cells have a much lower metabolic rate than those of smaller mammals, and we found changes in one specific gene involved in thermoregulation (UCP1) that may be related to metabolic differences in whale cells," Magalhaes added.
"This might allow us to see how and why bowhead whales and other similar creatures have sustained such an enormous size."
The study appeared in the journal Cell Reports.