White tiger gene found, according to reports in ScienceNOW, BBC News, ScienceDaily and Current Biology doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2013.04.054 23 May 2013.
White Bengal tigers have white fur with black stripes, rather than the normal orange fur with black stripes. Although they have been found in the wild in the past, they now only seem to exist in zoos, where the white colouration is maintained by captive breeding programmes. Some white tigers have many of the problems associated with inbreeding, including eye problems and deformities, and there has been some speculation that the white gene could be the cause of these problems.
In order to track down the genetic basis of the white fur a group of Chinese scientists have studied the genomes of a family of 16 related white and normally pigmented tigers living in Chimelong Safari Park. They found a mutation in a pigment gene named SLC45A2 in the white tigers. This gene codes for a transporter protein involved in pigment production, and the mutation results in the substitution of an amino acid, which may partially block the transporter channel cavity. The mutation inhibits the production of red and yellow pigments, but does not seem to affect black pigment, so the white tigers still have black stripes.
This mutation is also found in other light coloured animals, including mice, horse, fish and chickens, and also in light skinned people. The researchers suggest the mutation only affects the production of pigment, and therefore the deformities seen in the captive bred populations are due to other results of inbreeding, rather than the white mutation.
They concluded: “The white tiger variant is viable in the wild and a natural polymorphism of the tiger”.
Editorial Comment: Pretty? Yes, they are, but pretty degenerate actually. Even the white tigers in the wild, were lacking a characteristic that the much more viable normally pigmented tigers have.
The fact that this “natural polymorphism” may also stop a transporter protein from working properly, combined with the fact that inbred white tigers have defects reminds us that mutations only degrade genetic information. Mutations are evidence that the living world is devolving, changing from complex to simple, not evolving from simple to complex.
These defects are testimony that the real history of life on earth has been the perfection of God’s creation to the degeneration first commencing when man sinned, just as the Bible tells us.
Evidence News 10 July 2013
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