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The Tasmanian Devil Transcriptome Reveals Schwann Cell Origins of a Clonally Transmissible Cancer


Murchison, EP and Tovar, C and Hsu, A and Bender, HS and Kheradpour, P and Rebbeck, CA and Obendorf, D and Conlan, C and Bahlo, M and Blizzard, CA and Pyecroft, S and Kreiss, A and Kellis, M and Stark, A and Harkins, TT and Marshall Graves, JA and Woods, GM and Hannon, GJ and Papenfuss, AT, The Tasmanian Devil Transcriptome Reveals Schwann Cell Origins of a Clonally Transmissible Cancer , Science, 327, (5961) pp. 84-87. ISSN 0036-8075 (2010) [Refereed Article]

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Copyright Statement

Copyright 2009 by the American Association for the Advancement of Science

DOI: doi:10.1126/science.1180616


The Tasmanian devil, a marsupial carnivore, is endangered because of the emergence of a transmissible cancer known as devil facial tumor disease (DFTD). This fatal cancer is clonally derived and is an allograft transmitted between devils by biting. We performed a large-scale genetic analysis of DFTD with microsatellite genotyping, a mitochondrial genome analysis, and deep sequencing of the DFTD transcriptome and microRNAs. These studies confirm that DFTD is a monophyletic clonally transmissible tumor and suggest that the disease is of Schwann cell origin. On the basis of these results, we have generated a diagnostic marker for DFTD and identify a suite of genes relevant to DFTD pathology and transmission. We provide a genomic data set for the Tasmanian devil that is applicable to cancer diagnosis, disease evolution, and conservation biology.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Research Division:Biomedical and Clinical Sciences
Research Group:Immunology
Research Field:Immunogenetics (incl. genetic immunology)
Objective Division:Health
Objective Group:Clinical health
Objective Field:Clinical health not elsewhere classified
UTAS Author:Tovar, C (Dr Cesar Tovar Lopez)
UTAS Author:Obendorf, D (Dr David Obendorf)
UTAS Author:Blizzard, CA (Dr Catherine Blizzard)
UTAS Author:Kreiss, A (Dr Alexandre Kreiss)
UTAS Author:Woods, GM (Professor Gregory Woods)
ID Code:64058
Year Published:2010
Web of Science® Times Cited:159
Deposited By:Menzies Institute for Medical Research
Deposited On:2010-06-22
Last Modified:2011-06-14

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