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1.  On the origin of a domesticated species: Identifying the parent population of Russian silver foxes (Vulpes vulpes) 
The foxes at Novosibirsk, Russia, are the only population of domesticated foxes in the world. These domesticated foxes originated from farm-bred silver foxes (Vulpes vulpes), whose genetic source is unknown. In this study we examined the origin of the domesticated strain of foxes and two other farm-bred fox populations (aggressive and unselected) maintained in Novosibirsk. To identify the phylogenetic origin of these populations we sequenced two regions of mtDNA, cytochrome b and D-loop, from 24 Novosibirsk foxes (8 foxes from each population) and compared them with corresponding sequences of native red foxes from Europe, Asia, Alaska and Western Canada, Eastern Canada, and the Western Mountains of the USA. We identified seven cytochrome b - D-loop haplotypes in Novosibirsk populations, four of which were previously observed in Eastern North America. The three remaining haplotypes differed by one or two base change from the most common haplotype in Eastern Canada. ΦST analysis showed significant differentiation between Novosibirsk populations and red fox populations from all geographic regions except Eastern Canada. No haplotypes of Eurasian origin were identified in the Novosibirsk populations. These results are consistent with historical records indicating that the original breeding stock of farm-bred foxes originated from Prince Edward Island, Canada. Mitochondrial DNA data together with historical records indicate two stages in the selection of domesticated foxes: the first includes captive breeding for ~50 years with unconscious selection for behaviour; the second corresponds to over 50 further years of intensive selection for tame behaviour.
doi:10.1111/j.1095-8312.2011.01629.x
PMCID: PMC3101803  PMID: 21625363
domestication; mitochondrial DNA; phylogeography; red fox; tameness
2.  Sequence comparison of prefrontal cortical brain transcriptome from a tame and an aggressive silver fox (Vulpes vulpes) 
BMC Genomics  2011;12:482.
Background
Two strains of the silver fox (Vulpes vulpes), with markedly different behavioral phenotypes, have been developed by long-term selection for behavior. Foxes from the tame strain exhibit friendly behavior towards humans, paralleling the sociability of canine puppies, whereas foxes from the aggressive strain are defensive and exhibit aggression to humans. To understand the genetic differences underlying these behavioral phenotypes fox-specific genomic resources are needed.
Results
cDNA from mRNA from pre-frontal cortex of a tame and an aggressive fox was sequenced using the Roche 454 FLX Titanium platform (> 2.5 million reads & 0.9 Gbase of tame fox sequence; >3.3 million reads & 1.2 Gbase of aggressive fox sequence). Over 80% of the fox reads were assembled into contigs. Mapping fox reads against the fox transcriptome assembly and the dog genome identified over 30,000 high confidence fox-specific SNPs. Fox transcripts for approximately 14,000 genes were identified using SwissProt and the dog RefSeq databases. An at least 2-fold expression difference between the two samples (p < 0.05) was observed for 335 genes, fewer than 3% of the total number of genes identified in the fox transcriptome.
Conclusions
Transcriptome sequencing significantly expanded genomic resources available for the fox, a species without a sequenced genome. In a very cost efficient manner this yielded a large number of fox-specific SNP markers for genetic studies and provided significant insights into the gene expression profile of the fox pre-frontal cortex; expression differences between the two fox samples; and a catalogue of potentially important gene-specific sequence variants. This result demonstrates the utility of this approach for developing genomic resources in species with limited genomic information.
doi:10.1186/1471-2164-12-482
PMCID: PMC3199282  PMID: 21967120
3.  Mapping loci for fox domestication: deconstruction/reconstruction of a behavioral phenotype 
Behavior genetics  2010;41(4):593-606.
During the second part of the 20th century, Belyaev selected tame and aggressive foxes (Vulpes vulpes), in an effort known as the “farm-fox experiment”, to recapitulate the process of animal domestication. Using these tame and aggressive foxes as founders of segregant backcross and intercross populations we have employed interval mapping to identify a locus for tame behavior on fox chromosome VVU12. This locus is orthologous to, and therefore validates, a genomic region recently implicated in canine domestication. The tame versus aggressive behavioral phenotype was characterized as the first principal component (PC) of a PC matrix made up of many distinct behavioral traits (e.g. wags tail; comes to the front of the cage; allows head to be touched; holds observer’s hand with its mouth; etc.). Mean values of this PC for F1, backcross and intercross populations defined a linear gradient of heritable behavior ranging from tame to aggressive. The second PC did not follow such a gradient, but also mapped to VVU12, and distinguished between active and passive behaviors. These data suggest that 1) there are at least two VVU12 loci associated with behavior; 2) expression of these loci is dependent on interactions with other parts of the genome (the genome context) and therefore varies from one crossbred population to another depending on the individual parents that participated in the cross.
doi:10.1007/s10519-010-9418-1
PMCID: PMC3076541  PMID: 21153916
behavior genetics; domestication; social behavior; Vulpes vulpes; Canis familiaris
4.  Extracellular genomic DNA protects mice against radiation and chemical mutagens 
Genome Biology  2003;5(2):P3.
DNA fragments mutated by irradiation or chemical mutagens may be released by dying cells and incorporated into the genome of healthy cells, thereby inducing genomic instability. We show that injection of normal mouse DNA, but not human DNA, into lethally irradiated mice dramatically increased their survival.
Background
High doses of ionizing irradiation and chemical mutagens induce random mutations and chromosome aberrations in cells of affected organisms and cause acute symptoms, delayed increased risk of cancer and accelerated aging. The mechanism of disease development remains unclear and no treatment exists for consequences of the mutagenic damage.
Hypothesis
We have proposed recently that extracellular genomic DNA from tissue fluids of a healthy organism, innate receptor-mediated nuclear delivery of this DNA, and its homologous recombination with cellular genomic sequences might function concertedly as a natural proofreading mechanism for somatic cell genomes. Here we hypothesize that cells dying from irradiation or chemical mutagens release heavily damaged DNA fragments that propagate mutations and chromosome aberrations to DNA-recipient cells via this mechanism, inducing cell death and release of their mutated DNA again into the bloodstream. The repeated release of the mutated DNA followed by its incorporation into cellular genomes would spread mutational damage in the affected organism, thus making this DNA the etiologic agent of either radiation sickness or post-mutagen exposure syndrome. The hypothesis opens a possibility to inhibit and treat the disease via administration of non-mutated genomic DNA fragments that would compete with the circulating mutant DNA fragments, entering cells in greater numbers, leading to replacement of mutant segments in cellular genomes.
Results and Conclusions
Injection of fragmented mouse DNA, but not human DNA, into lethally irradiated mice dramatically increased their survival. Similarly, the mouse DNA was more potent than human and salmon DNA in accelerating recovery of the normal leukocyte level in mice treated with the chemical mutagen cyclophosphamide. The species specificity of the DNA therapy suggests that the genomic sequences are the agent producing the effects.
doi:10.1186/gb-2003-5-2-p3
PMCID: PMC4071282
5.  Extracellular genomic DNA protects mice against radiation and chemical mutagens 
Genome Biology  2003;5(2):P3.
DNA fragments mutated by irradiation or chemical mutagens may be released by dying cells and incorporated into the genome of healthy cells, thereby inducing genomic instability. We show that injection of normal mouse DNA, but not human DNA, into lethally irradiated mice dramatically increased their survival.
Background
High doses of ionizing irradiation and chemical mutagens induce random mutations and chromosome aberrations in cells of affected organisms and cause acute symptoms, delayed increased risk of cancer and accelerated aging. The mechanism of disease development remains unclear and no treatment exists for consequences of the mutagenic damage.
Hypothesis
We have proposed recently that extracellular genomic DNA from tissue fluids of a healthy organism, innate receptor-mediated nuclear delivery of this DNA, and its homologous recombination with cellular genomic sequences might function concertedly as a natural proofreading mechanism for somatic cell genomes. Here we hypothesize that cells dying from irradiation or chemical mutagens release heavily damaged DNA fragments that propagate mutations and chromosome aberrations to DNA-recipient cells via this mechanism, inducing cell death and release of their mutated DNA again into the bloodstream. The repeated release of the mutated DNA followed by its incorporation into cellular genomes would spread mutational damage in the affected organism, thus making this DNA the etiologic agent of either radiation sickness or post-mutagen exposure syndrome. The hypothesis opens a possibility to inhibit and treat the disease via administration of non-mutated genomic DNA fragments that would compete with the circulating mutant DNA fragments, entering cells in greater numbers, leading to replacement of mutant segments in cellular genomes.
Results and Conclusions
Injection of fragmented mouse DNA, but not human DNA, into lethally irradiated mice dramatically increased their survival. Similarly, the mouse DNA was more potent than human and salmon DNA in accelerating recovery of the normal leukocyte level in mice treated with the chemical mutagen cyclophosphamide. The species specificity of the DNA therapy suggests that the genomic sequences are the agent producing the effects.
doi:10.1186/gb-2003-5-2-p3
PMCID: PMC4076609

Results 1-5 (5)