An explanation why the rabbit d’Alfort walks on its hands
In 1935, veterinarians from France observed a rabbit with an unusual walk. Sometimes, when walking or running, a rabbit named d’Alfort raised its back legs above its head and moved on its forelimbs, exactly like a real artist in a circus.
Now scientists have managed to discover a genetic mutation that makes this breed walking in a strange way. The gene involved is considered the key to how the spinal muscle allows you to walk, jump, and even stand on your hands. This may help scientists to explain how all vertebrates move, including humans.
This study could help specialists heal human movement disorders, a disorder of the nervous system identified by muscle weakness, neuroscientists say.
The research results are truly amazing and exciting. This motion is difficult. The left and right, front and behind legs must move at the right time. And the muscles should shrink just enough to bend, straighten, lift, and wheel the legs correctly. And the body should be able to switch if the senses recognize danger.
Researchers understand that nerve cells, which carry sensory knowledge from the rest of the body to the motor neurons, play a key role. Geneticists Leif Andersson and Miguel Carneiro were trying to determine the DNA which is behind the jumping rabbit’s strange walk. Jumping rabbits were crossed with another breed to obtain animals with a normal or standing motion. Then, scientists analyzed the DNA of injured and healthy rabbits and identified one mutation in a gene that is called RORB.
In these rabbits, the mutation causes the RORB protein to be provided in a group of interneurons. This protein regulates the activity of many other genes. Studies have shown that the effect of two defective RORB genes is the complete absence of interneurons, and in rabbits, with one copy there are 25% fewer of them. These interneurons are inhibitory- they block nerve cells from activating and when they are absent, rabbits strain certain muscles too much, raising their hind legs more than they should.
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