Viewing Woolly Mammoth Haemoglobin in Jalview (web-based activity)

Activity: Other activity typesSchools engagement

Description

Woolly mammoths are huge, shaggy beasts with tusks up to 15 feet in length. They are ancestors of the elephant and are roughly the same size. They appeared on the earth about 700,000 years ago, roaming across the ice plains of northern Eurasia and North America. About 10,000 years ago, changes in the climate and vegetation after the Ice Age, along with the presence of humans, lead to their extinction. A few isolated communities survived, such as the one on Wrangel Island in the Arctic Ocean off Siberia, however they died out about 4,000 years ago.
A few woolly mammoths were preserved, nearly intact, in solid blocks of ice in the permafrost. This has allowed scientists to extract fragments of their DNA and gradually piece together the woolly mammoth’s genome¹. Scientists have used the genetic code to recreate the haemoglobin of the extinct woolly mammoth using recombinant gene expression². Haemoglobin is the protein in the blood responsible for delivering oxygen to the body.
The activities on this page use Jalview to:
(1) Examine the HBA-T2 gene in the extinct woolly mammoth genome that is responsible for the production of the haemoglobin alpha subunit.
(2) View the protein sequences and 3D structure of woolly mammoth haemoglobin, this was recreated from the genetic code in the DNA using recombinant genes expression.
(3) Compare the haemoglobin alpha subunit of the woolly mammoth with that of the woolly mammoth’s nearest living relatives, the African elephant and Indian elephant.
(4) Compare the haemoglobin alpha subunit of the woolly mammoth with that of other animals.
Period12 Jan 2023 → …