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Genetic Linkage

Cats’ Genomes Make Them Good Models for Human Disease

Over the years, I've shared my home with 17 felines. Several have perched on my printer while I cranked out many articles and books on genetics.


Little did I know that the genome of Felis catus is subtly similar to my own. Now, the aptly named Leslie Lyons, an associate professor at the University of Missouri Department of Veterinary Medicine & Surgery, has published an article in Trends in Genetics, "Cats – telomere to telomere and nose to tail, that makes the case for cats as models of human disease. (Telomeres are chromosome tips.)


"Approximately 33% of households in the USA own a cat, and as pets, cats have evolved from vermin control to beloved family members," Lyons writes. In the US, 42.7 million households include at least one feline.


Cats Are More Genetically Diverse Than Us


I've always been amazed at genome analyses that indicate species that are more genetically diverse than we are, when one chimp looks more or less like another to us. Cats are more genetically diverse than us, too.


The first genome sequence of a domestic cat was published in 2007. That individual was a 4-year-old Abyssinian named Cinnamon, whose lineage traces back several generations to Sweden.


To continue reading, go to DNA Science, where this post first appeared.

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