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Comparative Genomic Investigation of High-elevation Adaptation in Ectothermic Snakes
author: Li JT, Gao YD, Xie L, Deng C, Shi P, Guan ML, Huang S, Ren JL, Wu DD, Ding L, Huang ZY, Nie H, Humphreys DP, Hillis DM, Wang WZ, Zhang YP

Several previous genomic studies have focused on adaptation to high elevations, but these investigations have been largely limited to endotherms. Snakes of the genus Thermophis are endemic to the Tibetan plateau and therefore present an opportunity to study high-elevation adaptations in ectotherms. Here, we report the de novo assembly of the genome of a Tibetan hot-spring snake (Thermophis baileyi) and then compare its genome to the genomes of the other two species of Thermophis, as well as to the genomes of two related species of snakes that occur at lower elevations. We identify 308 putative genes that appear to be under positive selection in Thermophis We also identified genes with shared amino acid replacements in the high-elevation hot-spring snakes compared with snakes and lizards that live at low elevations, including the genes for proteins involved in DNA damage repair (FEN1) and response to hypoxia (EPAS1). Functional assays of the FEN1 alleles reveal that the Thermophis allele is more stable under UV radiation than is the ancestral allele found in low-elevation lizards and snakes. Functional assays of EPAS1 alleles suggest that the Thermophis protein has lower transactivation activity than the low-elevation forms. Our analysis identifies some convergent genetic mechanisms in high-elevation adaptation between endotherms (based on studies of mammals) and ectotherms (based on our studies of Thermophis)

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PubYear: 2018
Unit code: 152453
Publication name: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
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