Here’s What the Newly Sequenced Cat Genome Might Tell Us

In addition to teaching us more about kitties themselves, the cat genome could shed light on human disease

Photo: Jürgen Müller/imagebroker/Corbis

Researchers have just come one step closer to understanding the mysterious ways of the domestic cat. As i09 reports, the cat genome has finally been fully sequenced, with promise to shed light on cat enigmas ranging from disease to evolution. 

The cat genome had been sequenced in bits and pieces previously with "low-coverage shotgun genome sequencing," the researchers describe. But this effort is the real deal, revealing some 21,865 protein-coding genes. Three kitties—Cinnamon from Missouri, Boris from Russia and Sylvester, a European wildcat descendent—provided the genetic material for the study. 

As the researchers point out, cats share nearly 250 analogous genetic diseases with humans. They are also victims of similar infectious diseases, including feline leukemia and AIDS. Examining these disease from a cat point of view, the researchers think, could help us better understand them in both cats and humans. 

The cat genome, i09 adds, could also shed light on those beloved creatures' evolution. Unlike dogs, cats have not changed much since they first graced us with their domestic presence. As such, the team writes that the cat genome is a "highly informative resource" for better understanding mammalian evolution. 

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