New paper on the molecular evolution and loss of function of the ODAM gene in mammals
Updated: Jan 22, 2020
Chris and Frédéric participated in a study on the molecular evolution and loss of function of the ameloblast-associated gene ODAM in mammals published in BMC Evolutionary Biology (doi:10.1186/s12862-019-1359-6). In this study, we discovered inactivating mutations in the ODAM gene in all species of placental mammals that either lack teeth or lack enamel on their teeth. Surprisingly, ODAM is also inactivated in all toothed whales that were examined. We hypothesize that ODAM inactivation is related to the simplified outer enamel surface of toothed whales or may be to altered antimicrobial functions of the junctional epithelium in aquatic habitats. Our results validate the hypothesis that the only essential functions of ODAM are related to tooth development and/or the maintenance of a healthy junctional epithelium that attaches to the enamel surface of teeth. This paper results from a fruitful collaboration with Mark Springer (University of California, Riverside, USA), John Gatesy (American Museum of Natural History, New York, USA) and Michael Hiller (Max Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics, Dresden, Germany).