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Elife. 2019 Jun 6;8. pii: e42014. doi: 10.7554/eLife.42014. [Epub ahead of print]

An integrative genomic analysis of the Longshanks selection experiment for longer limbs in mice.

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Friedrich Miescher Laboratory of the Max Planck Society, Tübingen, Germany.
University of Calgary, Calgary, Canada.
IST Austria, Klosterneuburg, Austria.
Max Planck Institute for Cell Biology and Genetics, Dresden, Germany.


Evolutionary studies are often limited by missing data that are critical to understanding the history of selection. Selection experiments, which reproduce rapid evolution under controlled conditions, are excellent tools to study how genomes evolve under selection. Here we present a genomic dissection of the Longshanks selection experiment, in which mice were selectively bred over 20 generations for longer tibiae relative to body mass, resulting in 13% longer tibiae in two replicates. We synthesized evolutionary theory, genome sequences and molecular genetics to understand the selection response and found that it involved both polygenic adaptation and discrete loci of major effect, with the strongest loci tending to be selected in parallel between replicates. We show that selection may favor de-repression of bone growth through inactivating two limb enhancers of an inhibitor, Nkx3-2. Our integrative genomic analyses thus show that it is possible to connect individual base-pair changes to the overall selection response.


developmental biology; evolutionary biology; mouse

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Conflict of interest statement

JC, MY, MM, SB, LH, MK, WB, RN, IS, JC, NB, CR, YC The authors declare that no competing interests exist.

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