After years of studying how cats get their color, researchers have pinpointed an elusive gene underlying spots on cheetahs, stripes in house cats and patterns across the feline world. Called Taqpep, it and two other genes produce proteins central to a cascade of cell-level events that ultimately generate your kitty’s distinctive coat. “It’s something we’ve been curious about for a long time,” said geneticist Stephen O’Brien of the National Cancer Institute [full scientific paper]. “We’ve known just three genes were involved, but nobody knew what the genes were.” Wired covers the story
NPR also interviews O’Brien for their segment titled, “Could Genes For Stripes Help Kitty Fight Disease?“.