• Genomic analysis of snub-nosed monkeys (Rhinopithecus) identifies genes and processes related to high-altitude adaptation

      Yu, Li; Wang, Guo-Dong; Ruan, Jue; Chen, Yong-Bin; Yang, Cui-Ping; Cao, Xue; Wu, Hong; Liu, Yan-Hu; Du, Zheng-Lin; Wang, Xiao-Ping; et al. (2016)
      The snub-nosed monkey genus Rhinopithecus includes five closely related species distributed across altitudinal gradients from 800 to 4,500 m. Rhinopithecus bieti, Rhinopithecus roxellana, and Rhinopithecus strykeri inhabit high-altitude habitats, whereas Rhinopithecus brelichi and Rhinopithecus avunculus inhabit lowland regions. We report the de novo whole-genome sequence of R. bieti and genomic sequences for the four other species. Eight shared substitutions were found in six genes related to lung function, DNA repair, and angiogenesis in the high-altitude snub-nosed monkeys. Functional assays showed that the high-altitude variant of CDT1 (Ala537Val) renders cells more resistant to UV irradiation, and the high-altitude variants of RNASE4 (Asn89Lys and Thr128Ile) confer enhanced ability to induce endothelial tube formation in vitro. Genomic scans in the R. bieti and R. roxellana populations identified signatures of selection between and within populations at genes involved in functions relevant to high-altitude adaptation. These results provide valuable insights into the adaptation to high altitude in the snub-nosed monkeys.