Shark genome may help explain bone formation

fish full
Image via Christian Science Monitor. Byrappa Venkatesh, research director at the Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology at the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR), in Singapore

It turns out that studying a boneless animal can help explain the genetic basis of bones.

An international group of researchers has sequenced the genome of the elephant shark, “a curious-looking fish with a snout that resembles the end of an elephant’s trunk.” The species, which despite its name is not actually a shark, is a member of the family of the world’s oldest-living jawed vertebrates.

After comparing the shark genome with those of other vertebrates with bones, researchers noticed that the elephant shark lacked a family of genes that are crucial for bone formation. They confirmed this by removing a member of this gene family in zebrafish, a tropical freshwater fish. It was observed that a gene’s absence correlated with a reduction in bone formation in zebrafish.

Read the full, original story: Where do your bones come from? Shark genome study offers insights.

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