Studies of recreated mammoth haemoglobin, published today (Monday 3 May) in Nature Genetics, reveal special evolutionary adaptations that allowed the mammoth to cool its extremities down in harsh Arctic conditions to minimise heat loss.
"It has been remarkable to bring a complex protein from an extinct species, such as the mammoth, back to life," says Professor Alan Cooper, Director of the Australian Centre for Ancient DNA (ACAD) at the University of Adelaide, where the mammoth haemoglobin sequences were determined."This is true palaeobiology, as we can study and measure how these animals functioned as if they were alive today."
"We've managed to uncover physiological attributes of an animal that hasn't existed for thousands of years," says team leader Professor Kevin Campbell of the University of Manitoba, Canada. "Our approach opens the way to studying the biomolecular and physiological characteristics of extinct species, even for features that leave no trace in the fossil record."
The project began over seven years ago when Professor Campbell contacted Professor Cooper, who was then based at the University of Oxford, to suggest resurrecting mammoth haemoglobin.
"At the time, I thought 'what a great idea' – but it's never going to work," says Professor Cooper. "Still, bringing an extinct protein back to life is such an important concept, we've got to try it."
The team converted the mammoth haemoglobin DNA sequences into RNA, and inserted them into modern-day E. coli bacteria, which then manufactured the authentic mammoth protein.
"The resulting haemoglobin molecules are no different than 'going back in time' and taking a blood sample from a real mammoth," says Professor Campbell.
The team used modern scientific physiological tests and chemical modelling to characterise the biochemical properties that confer mammoths with physiological cold tolerance.
Team member Professor Roy Weber of the University of Aarhus, Denmark, who performed the physiological testing on the mammoth proteins, says the findings help show how the mammoth survived the extreme Arctic cold.
"Three highly unusual changes in the protein sequence allowed the mammoth's blood to deliver oxygen to cells even at very low temperatures, something that indicates adaptation to the Arctic environment," Professor Weber says.
"We can now apply similar approaches to other extinct species, such as Australian marsupials," says team member Dr Jeremy Austin, ACAD Deputy Director, who is currently using ancient DNA to study the evolution and extinction of the thylacine and Tasmanian Devil.
Professor Alan Cooper | EurekAlert!
The birth of a new protein
20.10.2017 | University of Arizona
Building New Moss Factories
20.10.2017 | Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg im Breisgau
University of Maryland researchers contribute to historic detection of gravitational waves and light created by event
On August 17, 2017, at 12:41:04 UTC, scientists made the first direct observation of a merger between two neutron stars--the dense, collapsed cores that remain...
Seven new papers describe the first-ever detection of light from a gravitational wave source. The event, caused by two neutron stars colliding and merging together, was dubbed GW170817 because it sent ripples through space-time that reached Earth on 2017 August 17. Around the world, hundreds of excited astronomers mobilized quickly and were able to observe the event using numerous telescopes, providing a wealth of new data.
Previous detections of gravitational waves have all involved the merger of two black holes, a feat that won the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics earlier this month....
Material defects in end products can quickly result in failures in many areas of industry, and have a massive impact on the safe use of their products. This is why, in the field of quality assurance, intelligent, nondestructive sensor systems play a key role. They allow testing components and parts in a rapid and cost-efficient manner without destroying the actual product or changing its surface. Experts from the Fraunhofer IZFP in Saarbrücken will be presenting two exhibits at the Blechexpo in Stuttgart from 7–10 November 2017 that allow fast, reliable, and automated characterization of materials and detection of defects (Hall 5, Booth 5306).
When quality testing uses time-consuming destructive test methods, it can result in enormous costs due to damaging or destroying the products. And given that...
Using a new cooling technique MPQ scientists succeed at observing collisions in a dense beam of cold and slow dipolar molecules.
How do chemical reactions proceed at extremely low temperatures? The answer requires the investigation of molecular samples that are cold, dense, and slow at...
Scientists from the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics, using high precision laser spectroscopy of atomic hydrogen, confirm the surprisingly small value of the proton radius determined from muonic hydrogen.
It was one of the breakthroughs of the year 2010: Laser spectroscopy of muonic hydrogen resulted in a value for the proton charge radius that was significantly...
17.10.2017 | Event News
10.10.2017 | Event News
10.10.2017 | Event News
20.10.2017 | Information Technology
20.10.2017 | Materials Sciences
20.10.2017 | Interdisciplinary Research