Genomic Diversity and Evolution of the Head Crest in the Rock Pigeon is featured on the cover of Science.
The geographic origins of breeds and the genetic basis of variation within the widely distributed and phenotypically diverse domestic rock pigeon (Columba livia) remain largely unknown. We generated a rock pigeon reference genome and additional genome sequences representing domestic and feral populations. We found evidence for the origins of major breed groups in the Middle East and contributions from a racing breed to North American feral populations. We identified the gene EphB2 as a strong candidate for the derived head crest phenotype shared by numerous breeds, an important trait in mate selection in many avian species. We also found evidence that this trait evolved just once and spread throughout the species, and that the crest originates early in development by the localized molecular reversal of feather bud polarity.
Additional press coverage here.
Published in Haematologica: Polycythemia due to Croatian homozygous VHL (571C>G:H191D) mutation has a different phenotype than Chuvash polycythemia (VHL 598C>T:R200W).
Mutations of VHL (a negative regulator of hypoxia-inducible factors) have position-dependent distinct cancer phenotypes. Only two known inherited homozygous VHL mutations exist and they cause polycythemia: Chuvash R200W and Croatian H191D. We report a second polycythemic Croatian H191D homozygote distantly related to the first propositus. Three generations of both families were genotyped for analysis of shared ancestry. Biochemical and molecular tests were performed to better define their phenotypes, with an emphasis on a comparison with Chuvash polycythemia. The VHL H191D mutation did not segregate in the family defined by the known common ancestors of the two subjects, suggesting a high prevalence in Croatians, but haplotype analysis indicated an undocumented common ancestor ∼six generations ago as the founder of this mutation. We show that erythropoietin levels in homozygous VHL H191D individuals are higher than in VHL R200W patients of similar ages, and their native erythroid progenitors, unlike Chuvash R200W, are not hypersensitive to erythropoietin. This observation contrasts with a report suggesting that polycythemia in VHL R200W and H191D homozygotes is due to the loss of JAK2 regulation from VHL R200W and H191D binding to SOCS1. In conclusion, our studies further define the hematologic phenotype of VHL H191D and provide additional evidence for phenotypic heterogeneity associated with the positional effects of VHL mutations.