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Will urbanisation affect the expression level of genes related to cancer of wild great tits?

Abstract : Recent studies suggest that oncogenic processes (from precancerous lesions to metastatic cancers) are widespread in wild animal species, but their importance for ecosystem functioning is still underestimated by evolutionary biologists and animal ecologists. Similar to what has been observed in humans, environmental modifications that often place wild organisms into an evolutionary trap and/or exposes them to a cocktail of mutagenic and carcinogenic pollutants might favor cancer emergence and progression, if animals do not up-regulate their defenses against these pathologies. Here, we compared, for the first time, the expression of 59 tumor-suppressor genes in blood and liver tissues of urban and rural great tits (Parus major); urban conditions being known to favor cancer progression due to, among other things, exposure to chemical or light pollution. Contrary to earlier indications, once we aligned the transcriptome to the great tit genome, we found negligible differences in the expression of anti-cancer defenses between urban and rural birds in blood and liver. Our results indicate the higher expression of a single caretaker gene (i.e. BRCA1) in livers of rural compared to urban birds. We conclude that, while urban birds might be exposed to an environment favoring the development of oncogenic processes, they seem to not upregulate their cancer defenses accordingly and future studies should confirm this result by assessing more markers of cancer defenses. This may result in a mismatch that might predispose urban birds to higher cancer risk and future studies in urban ecology should take into account this, so far completely ignored, hazard.
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https://hal.umontpellier.fr/hal-02468853
Contributeur : Pascale Roussel <>
Soumis le : jeudi 6 février 2020 - 10:51:09
Dernière modification le : mardi 26 mai 2020 - 17:38:02

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Mathieu Giraudeau, Hannah Watson, Daniel Powell, Orsolya Vincze, Frederic Thomas, et al.. Will urbanisation affect the expression level of genes related to cancer of wild great tits?. Science of the Total Environment, Elsevier, 2020, 714, pp.135793. ⟨10.1016/j.scitotenv.2019.135793⟩. ⟨hal-02468853⟩

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