If there’s one thing that we appreciate about the world around us, it is the diversity we see. It can be seen in many areas but is clearly evident when it comes to Quimera, the chimera cat. The feline hails from Argentina and, due to a genetic condition, her face is almost split perfectly down the middle in a beautiful way. That genetic condition, heterochromia, makes her one of the most exotic and beautiful cats online.
According to the New Republic, Quimera comes from a line of exotic cats that may be chimeras, but then again, they may not. Virginia Papaioannou, a Columbia University Professor of Genetics and Development, explains, “A chimera … is a composite individual that was made up of cells from at least two different original embryos. If they fuse together early enough, they will become a single organism whose genetic input is from two completely different individuals. In a mosaic, there’s only one individual and it just happens to have different genetic components active in its cells. A chimera would be a much more unusual and unlikely event.”
Papaioannou feels that Quimera and similar cats are examples of calico cats and not necessarily a genetic mishap. She says, “It’s a fairly straightforward example of X-inactivation mosaicism, with the addition of a white spotting gene. All-female mammals have two X-chromosomes. (Males have an X and a Y.) But both X chromosomes aren’t active: In every cell of the body, one of the two X chromosomes is inactivated. (That balances out the effect of the X chromosomes in males and females; since females have twice as many, it makes sense that half of theirs would be inactive.) In a cat, one gene for fur color is located on the X chromosome. And in any female, expression of all the genes that are on the X chromosome will be “mosaic”-that is, half of them will express one version of the gene (e.g., black fur) and half will express the other version of the gene (e.g., orange fur).”
She continued, saying, “The inactivation is random. Here we are talking about the orange/black mosaicism, which is highly visible, but the same pattern will hold true for other genes on the X that have two different versions-or alleles,” Papaioannou explained. “In a mosaic, there’s only one individual and it just happens to have different genetic components active in its cells. A chimera would be a much more unusual and unlikely event.”
Papaioannou feels that the different colored eyes could be due to a white spotting gene that causes her blue eye to lack melanin. She says, “The white spotting gene, the piebald gene, is probably affecting the two eyes differently. One has a sort of normal color and one is blue, which is basically a lack of pigment.”
The feline may not know how beautiful she is but she certainly has made an impact online. On Instagram, she has followers that number over 93,000 and growing daily.
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