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Lil Bub is so magical

Lil Bub is a kitten-size cat with 2 million Instagram followers, a talk show, a stage production, an album and a book. The new study reveals the weird DNA behind what is often described as her magical appeal. "We can definitely say she's magical," said Lupianez, who lives in Berlin and who, like his colleagues, has never actually with Lil Bub in person. "I remember the moment when we first saw here on the Skype video and we were just like," Uhhhhh. " " An international team of scientists sequenced the genome of Lil Bub, one of the world's most famous cats, to unlock the secrets of her mystique. Phot by Mike Bridavsky / lilbub.com In some respects, Lupianez and his partners in this project, fellow Berlin resident Daniel Ibrahim and University of Pennsylvania's Orsolya Symmons, now know Lil Bub more intimately than pretty much anyone. They spent four years crowdfunding money to sequence the cat's genome, creating whimsical videos and a blog to demystify a complicated process, and analyzing Bub's genetic material to discover what makes her so unusual. It helps to know what Lil Bub looks like. to understand why they did this. The cat has a short snout, enormous green eyes and a pink tongue that hangs from her stunted jaw like an errant piece of bubble gum. She never developed teeth, and she stopped growing around four pounds. Each of her paws boasts an extra toe, for a total of 22. (Six on the front paws,…

Lil Bub is a kitten-size cat with 2 million Instagram followers, a talk show, a stage production, an album and a book. The new study reveals the weird DNA behind what is often described as her magical appeal.

“We can definitely say she’s magical,” said Lupianez, who lives in Berlin and who, like his colleagues, has never actually with Lil Bub in person. “I remember the moment when we first saw here on the Skype video and we were just like,” Uhhhhh. ” “

An international team of scientists sequenced the genome of Lil Bub, one of the world’s most famous cats, to unlock the secrets of her mystique. Phot by Mike Bridavsky / lilbub.com

In some respects, Lupianez and his partners in this project, fellow Berlin resident Daniel Ibrahim and University of Pennsylvania’s Orsolya Symmons, now know Lil Bub more intimately than pretty much anyone. They spent four years crowdfunding money to sequence the cat’s genome, creating whimsical videos and a blog to demystify a complicated process, and analyzing Bub’s genetic material to discover what makes her so unusual.

It helps to know what Lil Bub looks like. to understand why they did this. The cat has a short snout, enormous green eyes and a pink tongue that hangs from her stunted jaw like an errant piece of bubble gum. She never developed teeth, and she stopped growing around four pounds. Each of her paws boasts an extra toe, for a total of 22. (Six on the front paws, five on the back.)

When Ibrahim first learned about Lil Bub a few years on a video about celebrity cats – “I had 40 minutes, “he explains – a lightbulb went off. He and Lupianez were both working in a genetics lab that studied bone disorders and limb malformation, and “this was similar to what we see in patients, except this was a cat,” Ibrahim recalled. He dashed to Lupianez’s office, where they started to mutate mutations.

Soon they were drafting an email to Lil Bub’s owner in Indiana, inquiring whether they might be allowed to sequence the genome of this feline sensation. Mike Bridavsky, who refers to himself as Bub’s dude, said he did not hesitate to send a blood sample, though he jokes that the results were disappointing.

“She’s quite literally one in infinity, you could say, as father as a genetic anomaly, “Bridavsky said of the cat found shortly after her birth in 2011.” I was convinced that she would find her DNA was not from our planet, which is what I was hoping for, or there was some crazy prehistoric DNA – that she was part of dinosaur. “

Berlin-based molecular biologists Daniel Ibrahim, left, and Dario Lupianez with a genetic sample from Lil Bub, a celebrity cat who lives across the ocean in Indiana. Photo courtesy of LilBUBome

Lupianez and Ibrahim, for their part, wondered whether the cat’s two already-diagnosed conditions – polydactyly, the term for here extra digits, and the rare bone-hardening disorder osteopetrosis – might be the result of one gene mutation, which would be an important finding. [InsteadtheyfoundinaninitialtestthatLilBub’spolydactylyresultedfromthesamemutationthatcausesittobeaErnestHemingway’sfamoussix-toedcatsgenerationsofwhichhavelivedatthewriter’sformerhomeinKeyWestFloridaThatmutationisdifferentfromthatwhichcausespolydactylyincatsoutsideNorthAmericawhichmeansBubissomehowrelatedtotheHemingwaycats

“This is pretty cool,” said Lupianez, who heads a lab at the Max Delbruck Center for Molecular Medicine. “Lil Bub is an orphan cat… But actually here DNA encodes information about her.” [WiththatsettledtheyknewthateverythingelsemakesBubsounique-thecutelittlefacetheosteopetrosisthetinybodysize-isprobablyduetoanothermutation”saidIbrahimapostdoctoralresearcherattheMaxPlanckInstituteforMolecularGenetics

First, they compared here genome with that of a reference cat, then they focused on genes that control bodily functions. Finally, they asked a colleague who specializes in bone disorders which are known to cause osteopetrosis.

That is what they call a mutation in a gene called RANK / TNFRSF11A, which has been found in about 15 humans and one mouse – all of whom, the researchers said, share physical similarities with Lil Bub. In X-rays, their bones look deformed and bright white, with little to no marrow cavity. The mouse, like Lil Bub, was missing teeth, because they can’t get through bone that hardens too quickly. (Bub can eat just fine, and she runs and jumps thanks to a pulsed electromagnetic field therapy.)

What it all adds up to, the researchers said, is a new case study for an extremely rare disorder – another example of how it can manifest itself and progress. Which means that Lil Bub, viral internet cat, could help doctors better treat human patients whose osteopetrosis stems from the same gene mutation.

The researchers said they plan to publish their results in a peer-reviewed journal but decided to first place them , and the complete data set, in the open access journal bioRxiv, in the hope other scientists might make other Lil Bub-related discoveries, such as the cat’s breeds.

Lupianez said he’s most proud that the project got regular people excited about genetics – with the help of a feline superstar, of course.

Bridavsky, who is credited as the paper’s lead author, said that all the other notch on the figurative little belt of Lil Bub.

“I think Bub is here for a reason, and I thought that something could come out of sequencing here DNA for medical research and for science,” he said. “And tha It’s exactly what happened. “

This article was written by Karin Brulliard, a reporter for The Washington Post.

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