Elephants have many retrocopies (retropseudogenes) of TP53, a gene notoriously associated with cancer resistance. Elephants also seem to rarely develop cancer (but read this for a different perspective).
When Abbelgen and collaborators published an article in the Journal of American Medical Association last November showing a possible link between TP53 copies and cancer resistance in elephants, well it just seemed to make sense.
Many aspects of their work looked sound and the link may be there, but some things were odd. For examples, the authors insisted on calling these TP53 copies “alleles”, which they are not, and at times referred to them as”retrogenes”, while they should be called retropseudogenes. So I wrote a comment to JAMA that just got published.
Is it just a matter of naming things right? Well, not in my opinion. You can find the original paper here, my comment here, and the authors response here. Two more comments on this article were published in JAMA (here and here).
Finally, a manuscript that seems to better explore the evolutionary history of TP53 retrocopies and their possible role in cancer resistance in elephant is available in BioRxiv