Molecular biology and evolution

Population variation revealed high-altitude adaptation of Tibetan mastiffs.

PMID 24520091


With the assistance of their human companions, dogs have dispersed into new environments during the expansion of human civilization. Tibetan Mastiff (TM), a native of the Tibetan Plateau, was derived from the domesticated Chinese native dog and, like Tibetans, has adapted to the extreme environment of high altitude. Here, we genotyped genome-wide single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) from 32 TMs and compared them with SNPs from 20 Chinese native dogs and 14 gray wolves (Canis lupus). We identified 16 genes with signals of positive selection in the TM, with 12 of these candidate genes associated with functions that have roles in adaptation to high-altitude adaptation, such as EPAS1, SIRT7, PLXNA4, and MAFG that have roles in responses to hypoxia. This study provides important information on the genetic diversity of the TM and potential mechanisms for adaptation to hypoxia.