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Open AccessArticle

The Singularity of Cetacea Behavior Parallels the Complete Inactivation of Melatonin Gene Modules

1
CIIMAR/CIMAR—Interdisciplinary Centre of Marine and Environmental Research, University of Porto, 4450-208 Matosinhos, Portugal
2
FCUP—Faculty of Sciences, Department of Biology, University of Porto, 4169-007 Porto, Portugal
*
Authors to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Equal Contribution.
Genes 2019, 10(2), 121; https://doi.org/10.3390/genes10020121
Received: 16 January 2019 / Revised: 1 February 2019 / Accepted: 1 February 2019 / Published: 6 February 2019
(This article belongs to the Section Animal Genetics and Genomics)
Melatonin, the hormone of darkness, is a peculiar molecule found in most living organisms. Emerging as a potent broad-spectrum antioxidant, melatonin was repurposed into extra roles such as the modulation of circadian and seasonal rhythmicity, affecting numerous aspects of physiology and behaviour, including sleep entrainment and locomotor activity. Interestingly, the pineal gland—the melatonin synthesising organ in vertebrates—was suggested to be absent or rudimentary in some mammalian lineages, including Cetacea. In Cetacea, pineal regression is paralleled by their unique bio-rhythmicity, as illustrated by the unihemispheric sleeping behaviour and long-term vigilance. Here, we examined the genes responsible for melatonin synthesis (Aanat and Asmt) and signalling (Mtnr1a and Mtnr1b) in 12 toothed and baleen whale genomes. Based on an ample genomic comparison, we deduce that melatonin-related gene modules are eroded in Cetacea. View Full-Text
Keywords: gene loss; Cetacea; melatonin; circadian rhythms gene loss; Cetacea; melatonin; circadian rhythms
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MDPI and ACS Style

Lopes-Marques, M.; Ruivo, R.; Alves, L.Q.; Sousa, N.; Machado, A.M.; Castro, L.F.C. The Singularity of Cetacea Behavior Parallels the Complete Inactivation of Melatonin Gene Modules. Genes 2019, 10, 121. https://doi.org/10.3390/genes10020121

AMA Style

Lopes-Marques M, Ruivo R, Alves LQ, Sousa N, Machado AM, Castro LFC. The Singularity of Cetacea Behavior Parallels the Complete Inactivation of Melatonin Gene Modules. Genes. 2019; 10(2):121. https://doi.org/10.3390/genes10020121

Chicago/Turabian Style

Lopes-Marques, Mónica; Ruivo, Raquel; Alves, Luís Q.; Sousa, Nelson; Machado, André M.; Castro, L. F.C. 2019. "The Singularity of Cetacea Behavior Parallels the Complete Inactivation of Melatonin Gene Modules" Genes 10, no. 2: 121. https://doi.org/10.3390/genes10020121

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