The unusual coat variation of the king cheetah is so different from the spots found on your typical cheetah that it almost looks like a completely different species of cat. Thought to once be a subspecies of cheetah, this rarity has been found to be the results of a single mutation in the DNA sequence of a peptidase enzyme called Taqpep.
This, along with the discovery of two other mutations, has helped researchers to uncover not only what causes the spot pattern of the cheetah but stipes in house cats and other patterns found in felines around the world!
Laurie Marker and Anne Schmidt-Küntzel of the Cheetah Conservation Fund, whom I have a close relationship with, contributed to this research. I hope to someday soon get the opportunity to work with many of the other individuals who contributed to this research. The world of feline genetics is growing and I hope to be a big part of that!
All photos and information from this post are from Wired Science about findings announced today in Science.