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Ok I'm not exactly sure how to tag this or where to ask, but... Could someone create living, breeding-viable wolf adults with the genes responsible for Siamese points (as found in the cat breed), and various breed-acceptable coat colors?

The end goal would be a population of otherwise normal Siamese-point wolves capable of breeding with one another and regular wild-type wolves.

Even if a given gene already exists in dogs, they'd have to come directly from the cats and be spliced into the wolf DNA, no actual dogs could be involved. Any other methods of modern science and breeders are definitely on the table. The funding, time, space, food, equipment etc. are all available, and they have access to plenty of healthy wolves and cats for surrogates and such.

I'm not asking if wolves and cats can interbreed naturally (obviously, they can't). Nobody is going to be trying to inseminate cats with wolf sperm or vice versa, they're sticking to vectors and stuff.

If they did create living cat-color wolves, would the colors manifest in a similar way, in the face/ears/paws/tail but not the body? Basically if they had the exact same gene, would it show up in the wolves in a similar fashion. Would there be too much of a body temperature difference for it to show up at all, or would you just end up with a bunch of white or tabby wolves? Basically would the body temperature difference between wolves and cats mess it up too much to actually get points. Is it even theoretically possible, or are wolves and cats too different and the embryos would never develop into pups at all? On the off chance that the new gene or genes make something toxic to wolves and the pups would just die in utero​. Thanks everyone!

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migrated from scifi.stackexchange.com Mar 19 '17 at 21:33

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  • $\begingroup$ You asked a lot of questions there, could you clarify a question in a separate paragraph? $\endgroup$ – BlippThePanda Mar 19 '17 at 21:41
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    $\begingroup$ I think this would be better worked out as "how can you get pointed coat coloration in canines?" (It wouldn't surprise me if some funky mutant doggy sported such a coat at some point in history...) $\endgroup$ – Shalvenay Mar 19 '17 at 21:43
  • $\begingroup$ Check out the Belgian Malinois breed of dog. They are rather 'Shepherd-like' but some have colouring similar to a Siamese cat. $\endgroup$ – WRX Mar 20 '17 at 13:08
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    $\begingroup$ @Willow: Like this: Belgian Malinois. $\endgroup$ – AlexP Mar 20 '17 at 14:13
  • $\begingroup$ @AlexP -- I did not know I could link a pic in a comment. Live and learn -- thank you. Yes, that was the exact image I saw. $\endgroup$ – WRX Mar 20 '17 at 14:16
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Easily.

The point coloration pattern seen in Siamese cats and other animals actually has a fascinating cause. A protein called tyrosinase is responsible in most of the cases. This enzyme is necessary for oxidizing the amino acid tyrosine in the production of the pigment melanin. In humans and in other animals when this protein is fully inactive it causes a complete lack of melanin production and results in albinism. Animals with the point coloration also have mutant copies of the tyrosinase gene, but these mutations instead of completely knocking out the function of the protein are what are called temperature sensitive. What this means is that the temperature sensitive protein loses its function at high temperatures, but still works at lower, permissive temperatures. This is what actually creates the point pattern. The darker coloration occurs in the extremities of the animals like the feet, tail, and ears where the average body temperature is low. The core of the animal which is hotter is lighter in color due to the reduced function of tyrosinase.

Tyrosinase is a highly conserved protein and performs the same role in cats, dogs, and humans as well. In fact there exist analogous mutations in many other animals. See the Himalayan mutation in mice, rabbits, and plenty of other mammals. There is even a report of a human patient with a temperature sensitive tyrosinase who had white hair on the scalp and armpit and darker hair on the extremities. If you wanted to make a dog or likely any other mammal with point coloration you could simply replace the animal’s tyrosinase genes with the temperature sensitive variants of the Siamese cat’s (or perhaps more simply just create the same temperature sensitive mutations in the new animals). Of course, I probably shouldn’t describe any genetic engineering endeavor as simple, but this project is fairly straightforward with currently existing genetic engineering technology.

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  • $\begingroup$ Ok I'm going to go with this one for now, thank you! $\endgroup$ – Latifah Mar 25 '17 at 6:40
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Dogs are wolves

They can interbreed with wolves, they are the same species. I don't really know much about how color points work with cats, but I think that any color pattern bred into a cat has been bred into a dog at some point.

With selective breeding, a dog could be bred to maintain wolf-like characteristics while having any coloration seen on dogs (or cats) today. No genetic engineering required.

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    $\begingroup$ The op is asking about splicing in the genes from a Siamese cat. How does selective breeding accomplish this? $\endgroup$ – sphennings Mar 20 '17 at 1:46
  • $\begingroup$ In a sense, he's saying its a pretty dumb way to get the expected result. $\endgroup$ – Journeyman Geek Mar 20 '17 at 5:02
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    $\begingroup$ @sphennings I'm just pointing out that you can get the same result without genetic engineering. $\endgroup$ – kingledion Mar 20 '17 at 12:23
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Short answer no.

There's nothing preventing genetically engineered wolves from having the coloring of a Siamese cat. It wouldn't be done by splicing the genes for coloration from the cat into the wolf.

In overly simple terms genes control the activation of proteins. Most times when we are splicing genes from one organism to another we are doing it to have the spliced organism produce a particular protein. This has been done to create glow in the dark zebra fish by splicing in the genes to create a glowing protein found in jellyfish.

In the case of coat pattern many genes are at play and it is highly dependent on how coloration is expressed within that species. Given how far cats and wolves are apart simply splicing in the genes for color wouldn't work.

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  • $\begingroup$ So how would it work? $\endgroup$ – BlippThePanda Mar 19 '17 at 21:48
  • $\begingroup$ Selective breeding, or deliberate mucking around with the genes for color. See en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Toyger for how selective breeding for coat color has been done in cats. A similar process could be done with wolves as well. $\endgroup$ – sphennings Mar 19 '17 at 21:52
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Siamese points, as you have noticed, is a specific pattern of colouring. Interestingly enough it has little to do with the normal pattern of hair colours but instead with the placement of the hair on the body. As you have notised, the wiki shows more than just cats. So more mammals have it...

For now I'll stick with breeding dogs, and it looks like colouring is kind of stable in dogs. While we might not be able to have the same process of colouring (edit, we can), well, there is this, we can have the looks of it. Browse around there, I think you can find a way to get what you want. Dogs are descendent of wolfs, so geneticly they are very similar.

So, Yes, you can. Might not be precisely the same colouring as cats, but you can. Transferring the right (dog) genes with splicing is the fastest way to do it, probably. But you can get there by selective breeding if you have more time.

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  • $\begingroup$ While many different species have point coloring. Each species has a different gene responsible for it. Splicing the cat gene for point coloring into a wolf has no guarantee of resulting in point coloring. $\endgroup$ – sphennings Mar 20 '17 at 14:40
  • $\begingroup$ @sphennings, I'll update to note that I mean Dog genes. $\endgroup$ – Flummox Mar 20 '17 at 14:57
  • $\begingroup$ The op is asking about splicing in the genes from a Siamese cat. How does transferring dog genes accomplish this? $\endgroup$ – sphennings Mar 20 '17 at 14:58
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    $\begingroup$ OP wants Wolves with (Siamese) Points colouring. But Points is cat colouring name. With some digging I found out that Dogs have the same system of colouring, it just shows up differently (and has a different name). With some creativity OP can has Point Wolves. And doesn't need to spice cat genes. $\endgroup$ – Flummox Mar 20 '17 at 15:01
  • $\begingroup$ That wasn't the question. To quote: "Could someone create living, breeding-viable wolf adults with the genes responsible for Siamese points". $\endgroup$ – sphennings Mar 20 '17 at 15:02
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Re: the other comments about breeding dogs and wolves, a natural hybrid between wolves and coyotes - "coywolves (sometimes called "woyotes") - have become alarmingly prevalent, as many contain ~10% of the DNA of domesticated dogs. This makes them intelligent and unafraid of people and are increasingly found in populated areas. Wolf and coyote DNA aside, this should give you the opportunity to utilize any types of dog coloration in your hypothetical beast.

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You know you don't need to splice genes to get this effect right? Just start breeding selectively, and eventually you'll get what look EXACTLY LIKE Siamese Points. Going out of your way to splice cat genes into wolves...let's just say this, if your science is sophisticated enough to do that, and you want them to interbreed with real wolves, what you'd actually do is manipulate the genes responsible for coloration in wolves. No cats needed.

But if we did splice--let's tackle your huge batch of questions as to how it would be expressed...well, the coloration is temperature dependant. Dogs and cats fall near the same range as far as that's concerned--but you might actually want to look outwards. As in, the outside temp DOES influence the expression of Siamese points. In a cold weather clime, they'd end up DARK all over, not white...yes, body temperature is mostly what does it, but that can be influenced by environments to some extent. Older cats tend to go darker too--as they run cooler when they get older.

There's also no guarantee that the genes will EXPRESS in the same way. The same gene sequence in a different animal might actually have a different result.

You don't have to rip the gene from dogs...I notice that you specifically state that you don't care that dogs have expressed this trait, or that dogs are more similar genetically, or that dogs can already interbreed with wolves. But, you don't have to rip the gene from dogs, because dogs do come from wolves. And what that means is, that lurking somewhere in their DNA is the ability to have similar coloration to a siamese cat--because dogs can.

You seem to be really attached to the idea of the hybridization--and that's really going to depend on your world.

The first thing I's be asking is why? Why did they bother to do this, when there are other, easier routes? What's the purpose?

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