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

Xiaodong Fang, Eviatar Nevo, Lijuan Han, Erez Y. Levanon, Jing Zhao, Aaron Avivi, Denis Larkin, Xuanting Jiang, Sergey Feranchuk, Yabing Zhu, Alla Fishman, Yue Feng, Noa Sher, Zhiqiang Xiong, Thomas Hankeln, Zhiyong Huang, Vera Gorbunova, Lu Zhang, Wei Zhao, Derek E. WildmanYingqi Xiong, Andrei Gudkov, Qiumei Zheng, Gideon Rechavi, Sanyang Liu, Lily Bazak, Jie Chen, Binyamin A. Knisbacher, Yao Lu, Imad Shams, Krzysztof Piotr Gajda, Marta Farré-Belmonte, Jaebum Kim, Harris A. Lewin, Jian Ma, Mark Band, Anne Bicker, Angela Kranz, Tobias Mattheus, Hanno Schmidt, Andrei Seluanov, Jorge Azpurua, Michael R. Mcgowen, Eshel Ben Jacob, Kexin Li, Shaoliang Peng, Xiaoqian Zhu, Xiangke Liao, Shuaicheng Li, Anders Krogh, Xin Zhou, Leonid Brodsky, Jun Wang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

112 Citations (SciVal)


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.

Original languageEnglish
Article number3966
JournalNature Communications
Publication statusPublished - 03 Jun 2014


  • 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


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