Genome-wide adaptive complexes to underground stresses in blind mole rats Spalax

Nat Commun. 2014 Jun 3:5:3966. doi: 10.1038/ncomms4966.


The blind mole rat (BMR), Spalax galili, is an excellent model for studying mammalian adaptation to life underground and medical applications. The BMR spends its entire life underground, protecting itself from predators and climatic fluctuations while challenging it with multiple stressors such as darkness, hypoxia, hypercapnia, energetics and high pathonecity. Here we sequence and analyse the BMR genome and transcriptome, highlighting the possible genomic adaptive responses to the underground stressors. Our results show high rates of RNA/DNA editing, reduced chromosome rearrangements, an over-representation of short interspersed elements (SINEs) probably linked to hypoxia tolerance, degeneration of vision and progression of photoperiodic perception, tolerance to hypercapnia and hypoxia and resistance to cancer. The remarkable traits of the BMR, together with its genomic and transcriptomic information, enhance our understanding of adaptation to extreme environments and will enable the utilization of BMR models for biomedical research in the fight against cancer, stroke and cardiovascular diseases.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Physiological / genetics*
  • Animals
  • Darkness
  • Evolution, Molecular*
  • Gene Expression Profiling
  • Genome*
  • Hypercapnia*
  • Hypoxia*
  • RNA Editing / genetics
  • Short Interspersed Nucleotide Elements
  • Spalax / genetics*
  • Stress, Physiological*
  • Transcriptome / genetics*

Associated data

  • GEO/GSE49485
  • SRA/SRA096441