A towering genome: Experimentally validated adaptations to high blood pressure and extreme stature in the giraffe

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

  • Chang Liu
  • Jianbo Gao
  • Xinxin Cui
  • Zhipeng Li
  • Lei Chen
  • Yuan Yuan
  • Yaolei Zhang
  • Liangwei Mei
  • Lan Zhao
  • Dan Cai
  • Mingliang Hu
  • Botong Zhou
  • Zihe Li
  • Tao Qin
  • Huazhe Si
  • Guangyu Li
  • Zeshan Lin
  • Yicheng Xu
  • Chenglong Zhu
  • Yuan Yin
  • Chenzhou Zhang
  • Wenjie Xu
  • Qingjie Li
  • Kun Wang
  • Wen Wang
  • Jinghui Huang
  • Qiang Qiu

The suite of adaptations associated with the extreme stature of the giraffe has long interested biologists and physiologists. By generating a high-quality chromosome-level giraffe genome and a comprehensive comparison with other ruminant genomes, we identified a robust catalog of giraffe-specific mutations. These are primarily related to cardiovascular, bone growth, vision, hearing, and circadian functions. Among them, the giraffe FGFRL1 gene is an outlier with seven unique amino acid substitutions not found in any other ruminant. Gene-edited mice with the giraffe-type FGFRL1 show exceptional hypertension resistance and higher bone mineral density, both of which are tightly connected with giraffe adaptations to high stature. Our results facilitate a deeper understanding of the molecular mechanism underpinning distinct giraffe traits, and may provide insights into the study of hypertension in humans.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbereabe9459
JournalScience Advances
Issue number12
Number of pages13
Publication statusPublished - 2021

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