Avian genomics lends insights into endocrine function in birds.
The genomics era has brought along the completed sequencing of a large number of bird genomes that cover a broad range of the avian phylogenetic tree (>30 orders), leading to major novel insights into avian biology and evolution. Among recent findings, the discovery that birds lack a large number of protein coding genes that are organized in highly conserved syntenic clusters in other vertebrates is very intriguing, given the physiological importance of many of these genes. A considerable number of them play prominent endocrine roles, suggesting that birds evolved compensatory genetic or physiological mechanisms that allowed them to survive and thrive in spite of these losses. While further studies are needed to establish the exact extent of avian gene losses, these findings point to birds as potentially highly relevant model organisms for exploring the genetic basis and possible therapeutic approaches for a wide range of endocrine functions and disorders. Copyright © 2017 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.