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1.  Pharmacogenetic and Metabolic Differences Between Dog Breeds: Their Impact on Canine Medicine and the Use of the Dog as a Preclinical Animal Model 
The AAPS journal  2008;10(1):110-119.
There is limited information describing species related pharmacogenetic differences in animals. Despite the lack of genetic information in veterinary medicine, breed specific responses to endogenous and exogenous substances have been reported across many species. This finding underscores the importance of obtaining insight into the genotypic and phenotypic variation present across breeds. This article provides a summary of the literature pertaining to canine breed differences in physiology, drug response, drug pharmacokinetics, and metabolic idiosyncrasies. The existing knowledge of pedigrees and the known phenotypes and genotypes of dogs provides important information for determining mode of inheritance, penetration, and other major characteristics of heritable traits. Understanding these breed differences will improve canine population predictions (for canine drug products) and may be of value when extrapolating toxicology data from dogs to humans.
PMCID: PMC2747081  PMID: 18446511
bioavailability; breed-related differences; canine pharmacodynamics; canine pharmacogenetics; canine pharmacokinetics; drug response; population diversity
2.  Canine cytochrome P450 (CYP) pharmacogenetics 
The cytochrome P450 (CYP) drug metabolizing enzymes are essential for the efficient elimination of many clinically used drugs. These enzymes typically display high interindividual variability in expression and function resulting from enzyme induction, inhibition, and genetic polymorphism thereby predisposing patients to adverse drug reactions or therapeutic failure. There are also substantial species differences in CYP substrate specificity and expression that complicate direct extrapolation of information from humans to veterinary species. This article reviews the available published data regarding the presence and impact of genetic polymorphisms on CYP-dependent drug metabolism in dogs in the context of known human-dog CYP differences. Canine CYP1A2, which metabolizes phenacetin, caffeine, and theophylline, is the most widely studied polymorphic canine CYP. A single nucleotide polymorphism resulting in a CYP1A2 premature stop codon (c.1117C>T; R383X) with a complete lack of enzyme is highly prevalent in certain dog breeds including Beagle and Irish wolfhound. This polymorphism was shown to substantially affect the pharmacokinetics of several experimental compounds in Beagles during preclinical drug development. However, the impact on the pharmacokinetics of phenacetin (a substrate specific for human CYP1A2) was quite modest probably because other canine CYPs are capable of metabolizing phenacetin. Other canine CYPs with known genetic polymorphisms include CYP2C41 (gene deletion), as well as CYP2D15, CYP2E1, and CYP3A12 (coding SNPs). However the impact of these variants on drug metabolism in vitro or on drug pharmacokinetics is unknown. Future systematic investigations are needed to comprehensively identify CYP genetic polymorphisms that are predictive of drug effects in canine patients.
PMCID: PMC3740394  PMID: 23890236
Dog; Canine; Genetic polymorphism; Cytochrome P450; Pharmacokinetics
3.  Molecular cytogenetic characterization of canine histiocytic sarcoma: A spontaneous model for human histiocytic cancer identifies deletion of tumor suppressor genes and highlights influence of genetic background on tumor behavior 
BMC Cancer  2011;11:201.
Histiocytic malignancies in both humans and dogs are rare and poorly understood. While canine histiocytic sarcoma (HS) is uncommon in the general domestic dog population, there is a strikingly high incidence in a subset of breeds, suggesting heritable predisposition. Molecular cytogenetic profiling of canine HS in these breeds would serve to reveal recurrent DNA copy number aberrations (CNAs) that are breed and/or tumor associated, as well as defining those shared with human HS. This process would identify evolutionarily conserved cytogenetic changes to highlight regions of particular importance to HS biology.
Using genome wide array comparative genomic hybridization we assessed CNAs in 104 spontaneously occurring HS from two breeds of dog exhibiting a particularly elevated incidence of this tumor, the Bernese Mountain Dog and Flat-Coated Retriever. Recurrent CNAs were evaluated further by multicolor fluorescence in situ hybridization and loss of heterozygosity analyses. Statistical analyses were performed to identify CNAs associated with tumor location and breed.
Almost all recurrent CNAs identified in this study were shared between the two breeds, suggesting that they are associated more with the cancer phenotype than with breed. A subset of recurrent genomic imbalances suggested involvement of known cancer associated genes in HS pathogenesis, including deletions of the tumor suppressor genes CDKN2A/B, RB1 and PTEN. A small number of aberrations were unique to each breed, implying that they may contribute to the major differences in tumor location evident in these two breeds. The most highly recurrent canine CNAs revealed in this study are evolutionarily conserved with those reported in human histiocytic proliferations, suggesting that human and dog HS share a conserved pathogenesis.
The breed associated clinical features and DNA copy number aberrations exhibited by canine HS offer a valuable model for the human counterpart, providing additional evidence towards elucidation of the pathophysiological and genetic mechanisms associated with histiocytic malignancies. Extrapolation of data derived from canine histiocytic disorders to human histiocytic proliferation may help to further our understanding of the propagation and cancerization of histiocytic cells, contributing to development of new and effective therapeutic modalities for both species.
PMCID: PMC3121728  PMID: 21615919
4.  Assessment of canine BEST1 variations identifies new mutations and establishes an independent bestrophinopathy model (cmr3) 
Molecular Vision  2010;16:2791-2804.
Mutations in bestrophin 1 (BEST1) are associated with a group of retinal disorders known as bestrophinopathies in man and canine multifocal retinopathies (cmr) in the dog. To date, the dog is the only large animal model suitable for the complex characterization and in-depth studies of Best-related disorders. In the first report of cmr, the disease was described in a group of mastiff-related breeds (cmr1) and the Coton de Tulear (cmr2). Additional breeds, e.g., the Lapponian herder (LH) and others, subsequently were recognized with similar phenotypes, but linked loci are unknown. Analysis of the BEST1 gene aimed to identify mutations in these additional populations and extend our understanding of genotype–phenotype associations.
Animals were subjected to routine eye exams, phenotypically characterized, and samples were collected for molecular studies. Known BEST1 mutations were assessed, and the canine BEST1 coding exons were amplified and sequenced in selected individuals that exhibited a cmr compatible phenotype but that did not carry known mutations. Resulting sequence changes were genotyped in several different breeds and evaluated in the context of the phenotype.
Seven novel coding variants were identified in exon 10 of cBEST1. Two linked mutations were associated with cmr exclusive to the LH breed (cmr3). Two individuals of Jämthund and Norfolk terrier breeds were heterozygous for two conservative changes, but these were unlikely to have disease-causing potential. Another three substitutions were found in the Bernese mountain dog that were predicted to have a deleterious effect on protein function. Previously reported mutations were excluded from segregation in these populations, but cmr1 was confirmed in another mastiff-related breed, the Italian cane corso.
A third independent canine model for human bestrophinopathies has been established in the LH breed. While exhibiting a phenotype comparable to cmr1 and cmr2, the novel cmr3 mutation is predicted to be based on a distinctly different molecular mechanism. So far cmr2 and cmr3 are exclusive to a single dog breed each. In contrast, cmr1 is found in multiple related breeds. Additional sequence alterations identified in exon 10 of cBEST1 in other breeds exhibit potential disease-causing features. The inherent genetic and phenotypic variation observed with retinal disorders in canines is complicated further by cmr3 being one of four distinct genetic retinal traits found to segregate in LH. Thus, a combination of phenotypic, molecular, and population analysis is required to establish a strong phenotype–genotype association. These results indicate that cmr has a larger impact on the general dog population than was initially suspected. The complexity of these models further confirms the similarity to human bestrophinopathies. Moreover, analyses of multiple canine models will provide additional insight into the molecular basis underlying diseases caused by mutations in BEST1.
PMCID: PMC3008713  PMID: 21197113
5.  Retrospective Analysis for Genetic Improvement of Hip Joints of Cohort Labrador Retrievers in the United States: 1970–2007 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(2):e9410.
Canine Hip Dysplasia (CHD) is a common inherited disease that affects dog wellbeing and causes a heavy financial and emotional burden to dog owners and breeders due to secondary hip osteoarthritis. The Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) initiated a program in the 1960's to radiograph hip and elbow joints and release the OFA scores to the public for breeding dogs against CHD. Over last four decades, more than one million radiographic scores have been released.
Methodology/Principal Findings
The pedigrees in the OFA database consisted of 258,851 Labrador retrievers, the major breed scored by the OFA (25% of total records). Of these, 154,352 dogs had an OFA hip score reported between 1970 and 2007. The rest of the dogs (104,499) were the ancestors of the 154,352 dogs to link the pedigree relationships. The OFA hip score is based on a 7-point scale with the best ranked as 1 (excellent) and the worst hip dysplasia as 7. A mixed linear model was used to estimate the effects of age, sex, and test year period and to predict the breeding value for each dog. Additive genetic and residual variances were estimated using the average information restricted maximum likelihood procedure. The analysis also provided an inbreeding coefficient for each dog. The hip scores averaged 1.93 (±SD = 0.59) and the heritability was 0.21. A steady genetic improvement has accrued over the four decades. The breeding values decreased (improved) linearly. By the end of 2005, the total genetic improvement was 0.1 units, which is equivalent to 17% of the total phenotypic standard deviation.
A steady genetic improvement has been achieved through the selection based on the raw phenotype released by the OFA. As the heritability of the hip score was on the low end (0.21) of reported ranges, we propose that selection based on breeding values will result in more rapid genetic improvement than breeding based on phenotypic selection alone.
PMCID: PMC2827553  PMID: 20195372
6.  A Simple Genetic Architecture Underlies Morphological Variation in Dogs 
PLoS Biology  2010;8(8):e1000451.
The largest genetic study to date of morphology in domestic dogs identifies genes controlling nearly 100 morphological traits and identifies important trends in phenotypic variation within this species.
Domestic dogs exhibit tremendous phenotypic diversity, including a greater variation in body size than any other terrestrial mammal. Here, we generate a high density map of canine genetic variation by genotyping 915 dogs from 80 domestic dog breeds, 83 wild canids, and 10 outbred African shelter dogs across 60,968 single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs). Coupling this genomic resource with external measurements from breed standards and individuals as well as skeletal measurements from museum specimens, we identify 51 regions of the dog genome associated with phenotypic variation among breeds in 57 traits. The complex traits include average breed body size and external body dimensions and cranial, dental, and long bone shape and size with and without allometric scaling. In contrast to the results from association mapping of quantitative traits in humans and domesticated plants, we find that across dog breeds, a small number of quantitative trait loci (≤3) explain the majority of phenotypic variation for most of the traits we studied. In addition, many genomic regions show signatures of recent selection, with most of the highly differentiated regions being associated with breed-defining traits such as body size, coat characteristics, and ear floppiness. Our results demonstrate the efficacy of mapping multiple traits in the domestic dog using a database of genotyped individuals and highlight the important role human-directed selection has played in altering the genetic architecture of key traits in this important species.
Author Summary
Dogs offer a unique system for the study of genes controlling morphology. DNA from 915 dogs from 80 domestic breeds, as well as a set of feral dogs, was tested at over 60,000 points of variation and the dataset analyzed using novel methods to find loci regulating body size, head shape, leg length, ear position, and a host of other traits. Because each dog breed has undergone strong selection by breeders to have a particular appearance, there is a strong footprint of selection in regions of the genome that are important for controlling traits that define each breed. These analyses identified new regions of the genome, or loci, that are important in controlling body size and shape. Our results, which feature the largest number of domestic dogs studied at such a high level of genetic detail, demonstrate the power of the dog as a model for finding genes that control the body plan of mammals. Further, we show that the remarkable diversity of form in the dog, in contrast to some other species studied to date, appears to have a simple genetic basis dominated by genes of major effect.
PMCID: PMC2919785  PMID: 20711490
7.  Genetic Correlations among Canine Hip Dysplasia Radiographic Traits in a Cohort of Australian German Shepherd Dogs, and Implications for the Design of a More Effective Genetic Control Program 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(11):e78929.
Canine hip dysplasia (CHD) is a common musculoskeletal disease in pedigree dog populations. It can cause severe pain and dysfunction which may require extensive medication and/or surgical treatment and often ultimately requires humane euthanasia. CHD has been found to be moderately heritable and, given its impact on welfare, should be considered an imperative breeding priority. The British Veterinary Association/Kennel Club scoring method is one of several measures used to assess the genetic propensity of potential breeding stock for dysplastic changes to the hips based on radiographic examination. It is a complex measure composed of nine ordinal traits, intended to evaluate both early and late dysplastic changes. It would be highly desirable if estimated breeding values (EBVs) for these nine traits were consolidated into a simpler, EBV-based, selection index more easily usable by breeders. A multivariate analysis on the phenotype scores from an Australian cohort of 13,124 German Shepherd Dogs (GSDs) returned genetic correlations between 0.48–0.97 for the nine traits which fell into two trait groups, Group 1 reflecting early changes (“laxity”) and Group 2 reflecting late changes (“osteoarthritis”). Principal components analysis of the ordinal EBVs suggested the same pattern, with strong differentiation between “laxity” and “osteoarthritis” traits in the second component. Taking account of all results, we recommend interim use of two selection indexes: the first being the average of ordinal EBVs for “laxity” traits and the second being the average of ordinal EBVs for “osteoarthritis” traits. The correlation between these two selection indexes (0.771–0.774) is sufficiently less than unity enabling the selection of dogs with different genetic propensity for laxity and for osteoarthritic CHD changes in GSDs; this may also be applicable in other breeds. Dogs with low propensity for severe osteoarthritic change in the presence of laxity may be of interest both in molecular research and breeding programs.
PMCID: PMC3820674  PMID: 24244386
8.  Diagnosis, classification and grading of canine mammary tumours as a model to study human breast cancer: an Clinico-Cytohistopathological study with environmental factors influencing public health and medicine 
The human “Elston and Ellis grading method” was utilized in dogs with mammary tumor to examine its relation to prognosis in this species, based on a 2-year follow-up period. Although cytopathology is widely used for early diagnosis of human neoplasms, it is not commonly performed in veterinary medicine. Our objectives in this study were to identify cytopathology criteria of malignancy for canine mammary tumors and the frequency of different types of mammary lesions and their relationship with histologic grade was investigated. Another aim of this study was to differentiate the simple and adenocarcinoma tumors from the complex or mixed tumor described by Elston and Ellis grading method.
The study was performed in 15 pure or mixed-breed female dogs submitted to surgical resections of mammary tumours. The mammary tumours were excised by simple mastectomy or regional mastectomy, with or without the superficial inguinal lymph nodes. Female dogs were mainly terriers (9 dogs) or mixed (3 dogs), the 3 other animals were a German shepherd, Dachshund and Pekingese. Before surgical excision of the tumour, FNAC was performed using a 0.6 mm diameter needle attached to a 10 ml syringe held in a standard metal syringe holder. The cytological sample was smeared onto a glass slide and either air-dried for May-Grünwald-stain, or ethanol-fixed for Papanicolaou stain and masses were surgically removed, the tumours were grossly examined and tissue samples were fixed in 10%-buffered-formalin and embedded in paraffin. Sections 4 μm thick were obtained from each sample and H&E stained.
We obtained a correct cytohistological correlation in 14/15 cases (93.3%) when all cytopathological examinations were considered. Of the 15 cases examined, 2(13.3%) had well-differentiated (grade I), 6(40%) had moderately differentiated (grade II) and 7(46.7%) had poorly differentiated (grade III) tumours. Classification of all canine mammary gland lesions revealed 13(86.7%) malignant and 2(13.3%) benign tumors. The histological examination showed that the most common tumor types of mammary glands in bitches were: complex carcinoma, adenocarcinoma, malignant mixed tumour, benign mixed tumour, simple carcinoma– (5/15; 33.3%), (3/15; 20%), (3/15; 20%) and (2/15;13.3%), respectively. Simple carcinoma and cystic hyperplasia were less common - (1/15; 6.7%), and (1/15; 6.7%), respectively. Moreover, the most often tumors occur in inguinal mammary (60%) and abdominal (27%) glands.
Our results demonstrate that, because of the similarity of the cytohistopathological findings in the human and canine mammary gland tumours, it is possible to use the same cytopathological criteria applied in human pathology for the diagnosis of canine mammary gland tumours. Furthemoer, routine use of this human grading method would help the clinician to make a more accurate prognosis in the interests of post-surgical management in dogs with mammary carcinomas. Furthermore, this research will allow a more discriminating classification of mammary tumors and probably has a bearing on cytohistopathology, epidemiology, pathogenesis and prognosis. The most often tumors occur in inguinal mammary (60%) and abdominal (27%) glands. This interesting regional difference may be due to a) the duration of the growth before the diagnosis; b) the age of the dogs; and c) high prevelance of unspayed animals. Moreover, the most common type of tumor was complex carcinoma – 33.3% (5 cases).
PMCID: PMC3765114  PMID: 23937693
Grading of tumours; Cytohistopathology; Dog; Mammary glands; Tumour
9.  Identification of Genomic Regions Associated with Phenotypic Variation between Dog Breeds using Selection Mapping 
PLoS Genetics  2011;7(10):e1002316.
The extraordinary phenotypic diversity of dog breeds has been sculpted by a unique population history accompanied by selection for novel and desirable traits. Here we perform a comprehensive analysis using multiple test statistics to identify regions under selection in 509 dogs from 46 diverse breeds using a newly developed high-density genotyping array consisting of >170,000 evenly spaced SNPs. We first identify 44 genomic regions exhibiting extreme differentiation across multiple breeds. Genetic variation in these regions correlates with variation in several phenotypic traits that vary between breeds, and we identify novel associations with both morphological and behavioral traits. We next scan the genome for signatures of selective sweeps in single breeds, characterized by long regions of reduced heterozygosity and fixation of extended haplotypes. These scans identify hundreds of regions, including 22 blocks of homozygosity longer than one megabase in certain breeds. Candidate selection loci are strongly enriched for developmental genes. We chose one highly differentiated region, associated with body size and ear morphology, and characterized it using high-throughput sequencing to provide a list of variants that may directly affect these traits. This study provides a catalogue of genomic regions showing extreme reduction in genetic variation or population differentiation in dogs, including many linked to phenotypic variation. The many blocks of reduced haplotype diversity observed across the genome in dog breeds are the result of both selection and genetic drift, but extended blocks of homozygosity on a megabase scale appear to be best explained by selection. Further elucidation of the variants under selection will help to uncover the genetic basis of complex traits and disease.
Author Summary
There are hundreds of dog breeds that exhibit massive differences in appearance and behavior sculpted by tightly controlled selective breeding. This large-scale natural experiment has provided an ideal resource that geneticists can use to search for genetic variants that control these differences. With this goal, we developed a high-density array that surveys variable sites at more than 170,000 positions in the dog genome and used it to analyze genetic variation in 46 breeds. We identify 44 chromosomal regions that are extremely variable between breeds and are likely to control many of the traits that vary between them, including curly tails and sociality. Many other regions also bear the signature of strong artificial selection. We characterize one such region, known to associate with body size and ear type, in detail using “next-generation” sequencing technology to identify candidate mutations that may control these traits. Our results suggest that artificial selection has targeted genes involved in development and metabolism and that it may have increased the incidence of disease in dog breeds. Knowledge of these regions will be of great importance for uncovering the genetic basis of variation between dog breeds and for finding mutations that cause disease.
PMCID: PMC3192833  PMID: 22022279
10.  Origins of the Domestic Dog and the Rich Potential for Gene Mapping 
The unique breeding structure of the domestic dog makes canine genetics a useful tool to further the understanding of inherited diseases and gene function. Answers to the questions of when and where the dog was domesticated from the wolf are uncertain, but how the modern diversity of dog breeds was developed is documented. Breed development has resulted in many genetically isolated populations which are segregating for different alleles for disease and morphological and behavioral traits. Many genetic tools are available for dog research allowing investigation into the genetic basis of these phenotypes. Research into causes of diseases in dogs is relevant to humans and other species; comparative genomics is being used to transfer genetic information to them, including some studies on morphological and behavioral phenotypes. Because of the unique breed structure and well-maintained pedigrees, dogs represent a model organism containing a wealth of genetic information.
PMCID: PMC3335641  PMID: 22567358
11.  Differential gene expression in brain tissues of aggressive and non-aggressive dogs 
Canine behavioural problems, in particular aggression, are important reasons for euthanasia of otherwise healthy dogs. Aggressive behaviour in dogs also represents an animal welfare problem and a public threat. Elucidating the genetic background of adverse behaviour can provide valuable information to breeding programs and aid the development of drugs aimed at treating undesirable behaviour. With the intentions of identifying gene-specific expression in particular brain parts and comparing brains of aggressive and non-aggressive dogs, we studied amygdala, frontal cortex, hypothalamus and parietal cortex, as these tissues are reported to be involved in emotional reactions, including aggression. Based on quantitative real-time PCR (qRT-PCR) in 20 brains, obtained from 11 dogs euthanised because of aggressive behaviour and nine non-aggressive dogs, we studied expression of nine genes identified in an initial screening by subtraction hybridisation.
This study describes differential expression of the UBE2V2 and ZNF227 genes in brains of aggressive and non-aggressive dogs. It also reports differential expression for eight of the studied genes across four different brain tissues (amygdala, frontal cortex, hypothalamus, and parietal cortex). Sex differences in transcription levels were detected for five of the nine studied genes.
The study showed significant differences in gene expression between brain compartments for most of the investigated genes. Increased expression of two genes was associated with the aggression phenotype. Although the UBE2V2 and ZNF227 genes have no known function in regulation of aggressive behaviour, this study contributes to preliminary data of differential gene expression in the canine brain and provides new information to be further explored.
PMCID: PMC2898780  PMID: 20553618
12.  Novel lipoprotein density profiling in healthy dogs of various breeds, healthy miniature schnauzers, and miniature schnauzers with hyperlipidemia 
Despite the importance of abnormalities in lipoprotein metabolism in clinical canine medicine, the fact that most previously used methods for lipoprotein profiling are rather laborious and time-consuming has been a major obstacle to the wide clinical application and use of lipoprotein profiling in this species. The aim of the present study was to assess the feasibility of a continuous lipoprotein density profile (CLPDP) generated within a bismuth sodium ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid (NaBiEDTA) density gradient to characterize and compare the lipoprotein profiles of healthy dogs of various breeds, healthy Miniature Schnauzers, and Miniature Schnauzers with primary hypertriacylglycerolemia. A total of 35 healthy dogs of various breeds with serum triacylglycerol (TAG) and cholesterol concentrations within their respective reference intervals were selected for use as a reference population. Thirty-one Miniature Schnauzers with serum TAG and cholesterol concentrations within their respective reference intervals and 31 Miniature Schnauzers with hypertriacylglyceridemia were also included in the study.
The results suggest that CLPDP using NaBiEDTA provides unique diagnostic information in addition to measurements of serum TAG and cholesterol concentrations and that it is a useful screening method for dogs with suspected lipoprotein metabolism disorders. Using the detailed and continuous density distribution information provided by the CLPDP, important differences in lipoprotein profiles can be detected even among dogs that have serum TAG and cholesterol concentrations within the reference interval. Miniature Schnauzers with serum TAG and cholesterol concentrations within the reference interval had significantly different lipoprotein profiles than dogs of various other breeds. In addition, it was further established that specific lipoprotein fractions are associated with hypertriacylglyceridemia in Miniature Schnauzers.
The results of the present study suggest that density gradient ultracentrifugation using NaBiEDTA is a useful screening method for the study of lipoprotein profiles in dogs. Therefore, this method could potentially be used for diagnostic purposes for the separation of dogs suspected of having lipoprotein abnormalities from healthy dogs.
PMCID: PMC3606259  PMID: 23497598
Canine; Hypertriglyceridemia; Lipemia; Lipoprotein fingerprinting; NaBiEDTA; NaBiY; Ultracentrifugation; Disease
13.  MtDNA diversity among four Portuguese autochthonous dog breeds: a fine-scale characterisation 
BMC Genetics  2005;6:37.
The picture of dog mtDNA diversity, as obtained from geographically wide samplings but from a small number of individuals per region or breed, has revealed weak geographic correlation and high degree of haplotype sharing between very distant breeds. We aimed at a more detailed picture through extensive sampling (n = 143) of four Portuguese autochthonous breeds – Castro Laboreiro Dog, Serra da Estrela Mountain Dog, Portuguese Sheepdog and Azores Cattle Dog-and comparatively reanalysing published worldwide data.
Fifteen haplotypes belonging to four major haplogroups were found in these breeds, of which five are newly reported. The Castro Laboreiro Dog presented a 95% frequency of a new A haplotype, while all other breeds contained a diverse pool of existing lineages. The Serra da Estrela Mountain Dog, the most heterogeneous of the four Portuguese breeds, shared haplotypes with the other mainland breeds, while Azores Cattle Dog shared no haplotypes with the other Portuguese breeds.
A review of mtDNA haplotypes in dogs across the world revealed that: (a) breeds tend to display haplotypes belonging to different haplogroups; (b) haplogroup A is present in all breeds, and even uncommon haplogroups are highly dispersed among breeds and continental areas; (c) haplotype sharing between breeds of the same region is lower than between breeds of different regions and (d) genetic distances between breeds do not correlate with geography.
MtDNA haplotype sharing occurred between Serra da Estrela Mountain dogs (with putative origin in the centre of Portugal) and two breeds in the north and south of the country-with the Castro Laboreiro Dog (which behaves, at the mtDNA level, as a sub-sample of the Serra da Estrela Mountain Dog) and the southern Portuguese Sheepdog. In contrast, the Azores Cattle Dog did not share any haplotypes with the other Portuguese breeds, but with dogs sampled in Northern Europe. This suggested that the Azores Cattle Dog descended maternally from Northern European dogs rather than Portuguese mainland dogs. A review of published mtDNA haplotypes identified thirteen non-Portuguese breeds with sufficient data for comparison. Comparisons between these thirteen breeds, and the four Portuguese breeds, demonstrated widespread haplotype sharing, with the greatest diversity among Asian dogs, in accordance with the central role of Asia in canine domestication.
PMCID: PMC1180824  PMID: 15972107
14.  Distribution of extrahepatic congenital portosystemic shunt morphology in predisposed dog breeds 
An inherited basis for congenital extrahepatic portosystemic shunts (EHPSS) has been demonstrated in several small dog breeds. If in general both portocaval and porto-azygous shunts occur in breeds predisposed to portosystemic shunts then this could indicate a common genetic background. This study was performed to determine the distribution of extrahepatic portocaval and porto-azygous shunts in purebred dog populations.
Data of 135 client owned dogs diagnosed with EHPSS at the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine of Utrecht University from 2001 – 2010 were retrospectively analyzed. The correlation between shunt localization, sex, age, dog size and breed were studied. The study group consisted of 54 males and 81 females from 24 breeds. Twenty-five percent of dogs had porto-azygous shunts and 75% had portocaval shunts. Of the dogs with porto-azygous shunts only 27% was male (P = 0.006). No significant sex difference was detected in dogs with a portocaval shunt. Both phenotypes were present in almost all breeds represented with more than six cases. Small dogs are mostly diagnosed with portocaval shunts (79%) whereas both types are detected. The age at diagnosis in dogs with porto-azygous shunts was significantly higher than that of dogs with portocaval shunts (P < 0.001).
The remarkable similarity of phenotypic variation in many dog breeds may indicate common underlying genes responsible for EHPSS across breeds. The subtype of EHPSS could be determined by a minor genetic component or modulating factors during embryonic development.
PMCID: PMC3602064  PMID: 22784395
15.  Heritability and Phenotypic Variation of Canine Hip Dysplasia Radiographic Traits in a Cohort of Australian German Shepherd Dogs 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(6):e39620.
Canine Hip Dysplasia (CHD) is a common, painful and debilitating orthopaedic disorder of dogs with a partly genetic, multifactorial aetiology. Worldwide, potential breeding dogs are evaluated for CHD using radiographically based screening schemes such as the nine ordinally-scored British Veterinary Association Hip Traits (BVAHTs). The effectiveness of selective breeding based on screening results requires that a significant proportion of the phenotypic variation is caused by the presence of favourable alleles segregating in the population. This proportion, heritability, was measured in a cohort of 13,124 Australian German Shepherd Dogs born between 1976 and 2005, displaying phenotypic variation for BVAHTs, using ordinal, linear and binary mixed models fitted by a Restricted Maximum Likelihood method. Heritability estimates for the nine BVAHTs ranged from 0.14–0.24 (ordinal models), 0.14–0.25 (linear models) and 0.12–0.40 (binary models). Heritability for the summed BVAHT phenotype was 0.30±0.02. The presence of heritable variation demonstrates that selection based on BVAHTs has the potential to improve BVAHT scores in the population. Assuming a genetic correlation between BVAHT scores and CHD-related pain and dysfunction, the welfare of Australian German Shepherds can be improved by continuing to consider BVAHT scores in the selection of breeding dogs, but that as heritability values are only moderate in magnitude the accuracy, and effectiveness, of selection could be improved by the use of Estimated Breeding Values in preference to solely phenotype based selection of breeding animals.
PMCID: PMC3384595  PMID: 22761846
16.  Genome-wide copy number variant discovery in dogs using the CanineHD genotyping array 
BMC Genomics  2014;15:210.
Substantial contribution to phenotypic diversity is accounted for by copy number variants (CNV). In human, as well as other species, the effect of CNVs range from benign to directly disease-causing which motivates the continued investigations of CNVs. Previous canine genome-wide screenings for CNVs have been performed using high-resolution comparative genomic hybridisation arrays which have contributed with a detailed catalogue of CNVs. Here, we present the first CNV investigation in dogs based on the recently reported CanineHD 170 K genotyping array. The hitherto largest dataset in canine CNV discovery was assessed, 351 dogs from 30 different breeds, enabling identification of novel CNVs and a thorough characterisation of breed-specific CNVs.
A stringent procedure identified 72 CNV regions with the smallest size of 38 kb and of the 72 CNV regions, 38 overlapped 148 annotated genes. A total of 29 novel CNV regions were found containing 44 genes. Furthermore, 15 breed specific CNV regions were identified of which 14 were novel and some of them overlapped putative disease susceptibility genes. In addition, the human ortholog of 23 canine copy number variable genes identified herein has been previously suggested to be dosage-sensitive in human.
The present study evaluated the performance of the CanineHD in detecting CNVs and extends the current catalogue of canine CNV regions with several dozens of novel CNV regions. These novel CNV regions, which harbour candidate genes that possibly contribute to phenotypic variation in dogs or to disease-susceptibility, are a rich resource for future investigations.
PMCID: PMC4234435  PMID: 24640994
Copy number variation; CNV; SNP genotyping array; Dog genome; Deletion; Duplication; CanineHD
17.  "Reactivity to Stimuli” Is a Temperamental Factor Contributing to Canine Aggression 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(6):e100767.
Canine aggression is one of the most frequent problems in veterinary behavioral medicine, which in severe cases may result in relinquishment or euthanasia. As it is important to reveal underlying factors of aggression for both treatment and prevention, we recently developed a questionnaire on aggression and temperamental traits and found that “reactivity to stimuli” was associated with aggression toward owners, children, strangers, and other dogs of the Shiba Inu breed. In order to examine whether these associations were consistent in other breeds, we asked the owners of insured dogs of Anicom Insurance Inc. to complete our questionnaire. The top 17 contracted breeds were included. The questionnaire consisted of dogs' general information, four items related to aggression toward owners, children, strangers, and other dogs, and 20 other behavioral items. Aggression-related and behavioral items were rated on a five-point frequency scale. Valid responses (n = 5610) from owners of dogs aged 1 through 10 years were collected. Factor analyses on 18 behavioral items (response rate over 95%) extracted five largely consistent factors in 14 breeds: “sociability with humans,” “fear of sounds,” “chase proneness,” “reactivity to stimuli,” and “avoidance of aversive events.” By stepwise multiple regression analyses, using the Schwartz's Bayesian information criterion (BIC) method with aggression points as objective variables and general information and temperamental factor points as explanatory variables, “reactivity to stimuli,” i.e., physical reactivity to sudden movement or sound at home, was shown to be significantly associated with owner-directed aggression in 13 breeds, child-directed aggression in eight breeds, stranger-directed aggression in nine breeds, and dog-directed aggression in five breeds. These results suggest that “reactivity to stimuli” is simultaneously involved in several types of aggression. Therefore, it would be worth taking “reactivity to stimuli” into account in the treatment and prevention of canine aggression.
PMCID: PMC4074066  PMID: 24972077
18.  Canine Hip Dysplasia is Predictable by Genotyping 
To establish a predictive method using whole genome genotyping for early intervention in canine hip dysplasia (CHD) risk management, for the prevention of the progression of secondary osteoarthritis (OA), and for selective breeding.
Two sets of dogs (6 breeds) were genotyped with dense SNPs covering the entire canine genome. The first set contained 359 dogs upon which a predictive formula for genomic breeding value (GBV) was derived by using their estimated breeding value (EBV) of the Norberg angle (a measure of CHD) and their genotypes. To investigate how well the formula would work for an individual dog with genotype only (without using EBV or phenotype), a cross validation was performed by masking the EBV of one dog at a time. The genomic data and the EBV of the remaining dogs were used to predict the GBV for the single dog that was left out. The second set of dogs included 38 new Labrador retriever dogs, which had no pedigree relationship to the dogs in the first set.
The cross validation showed a strong correlation (r>0.7) between the EBV and the GBV. The independent validation showed a strong correlation (r=0.5) between GBV for the Norberg angle and the observed Norberg angle (no EBV was available for the new 38 dogs). Sensitivity, specificity, positive, and negative predictive value of the genomic data were all above 70%.
Prediction of CHD from genomic data is feasible, and can be applied for risk management of CHD and early selection for genetic improvement to reduce the prevalence of CHD in breeding programs. The prediction can be implemented before maturity, at which age current radiographic screening programs are traditionally applied, and as soon as DNA is available.
PMCID: PMC3065507  PMID: 21215318
19.  Molecular epidemiology of canine GM1 gangliosidosis in the Shiba Inu breed in Japan: relationship between regional prevalence and carrier frequency 
Canine GM1 gangliosidosis is a fatal disease in the Shiba Inu breed, which is one of the most popular traditional breeds in Japan and is maintained as a standard breed in many countries. Therefore, it is important to control and reduce the prevalence of GM1 gangliosidosis for maintaining the quality of this breed and to ensure supply of healthy dogs to prospective breeders and owners. This molecular epidemiological survey was performed to formulate an effective strategy for the control and prevention of this disease.
The survey was carried out among 590 clinically unaffected Shiba Inu dogs from the 8 districts of Japan, and a genotyping test was used to determine nation-wide and regional carrier frequencies. The number and native district of affected dogs identified in 16 years from 1997 to June 2013 were also surveyed retrospectively. Of the 590 dogs examined, 6 dogs (1.02%, 6/590) were carriers: 3 dogs (2.27%, 3/132) from the Kinki district and the other 3 dogs from the Hokkaido, Kanto, and Shikoku districts. The retrospective survey revealed 23 affected dogs, among which, 19 dogs (82.6%) were born within the last 7 years. Of the 23 affected dogs, 12 dogs (52.2%) were from the Kinki district. Pedigree analysis demonstrated that all the affected dogs and carriers with the pedigree information have a close blood relationship.
Our results showed that the current carrier frequency for GM1 gangliosidosis is on the average 1.02% in Japan and rather high in the Kinki district, which may be related to the high prevalence observed over the past 16 years in this region. This observation suggests that carrier dogs are distributed all over Japan; however, kennels in the Kinki district may face an increased risk of GM1 gangliosidosis. Therefore, for effective control and prevention of this disease, it is necessary to examine as many breeding dogs as possible from all regions of Japan, especially from kennels located in areas with high prevalence and carrier frequency.
PMCID: PMC3701567  PMID: 23819787
GM1 Gangliosidosis; Shiba Inu Dog; Molecular Epidemiology; Canine Inherited Disease
20.  Intrabreed Stratification Related to Divergent Selection Regimes in Purebred Dogs May Affect the Interpretation of Genetic Association Studies 
Journal of Heredity  2009;100(Suppl 1):S28-S36.
Until recently, canine genetic research has not focused on population structure within breeds, which may confound the results of case–control studies by introducing spurious correlations between phenotype and genotype that reflect population history. Intrabreed structure may exist when geographical origin or divergent selection regimes influence the choices of potential mates for breeding dogs. We present evidence for intrabreed stratification from a genome-wide marker survey in a sample of unrelated dogs. We genotyped 76 Border Collies, 49 Australian Shepherds, 17 German Shepherd Dogs, and 17 Portuguese Water Dogs for our primary analyses using Affymetrix Canine v2.0 single-nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) arrays. Subsets of autosomal markers were examined using clustering algorithms to facilitate assignment of individuals to populations and estimation of the number of populations represented in the sample. SNPs passing stringent quality control filters were employed for explicitly phylogenetic analyses reconstructing relationships between individuals using maximum parsimony and Bayesian methods. We used simulation studies to explore the possible effects of intrabreed stratification on genome-wide association studies. These analyses demonstrate significant stratification in at least one of our primary breeds of interest, the Border Collie. Demographic and pedigree data suggest that this population substructure may result from geographic isolation or divergent selection regimes practiced by breeders with different breeding program goals. Simulation studies indicate that such stratification could result in false discovery rates significant enough to confound genome-wide association analyses. Intrabreed stratification should be accounted for when designing and interpreting the results of case–control association studies using purebred dogs.
PMCID: PMC4176315
Bayesian analysis; canine genetics; maximum parsimony; phylogenetics; population stratification; purebred dogs
21.  Comparison of molecular breeding values based on within- and across-breed training in beef cattle 
Although the efficacy of genomic predictors based on within-breed training looks promising, it is necessary to develop and evaluate across-breed predictors for the technology to be fully applied in the beef industry. The efficacies of genomic predictors trained in one breed and utilized to predict genetic merit in differing breeds based on simulation studies have been reported, as have the efficacies of predictors trained using data from multiple breeds to predict the genetic merit of purebreds. However, comparable studies using beef cattle field data have not been reported.
Molecular breeding values for weaning and yearling weight were derived and evaluated using a database containing BovineSNP50 genotypes for 7294 animals from 13 breeds in the training set and 2277 animals from seven breeds (Angus, Red Angus, Hereford, Charolais, Gelbvieh, Limousin, and Simmental) in the evaluation set. Six single-breed and four across-breed genomic predictors were trained using pooled data from purebred animals. Molecular breeding values were evaluated using field data, including genotypes for 2227 animals and phenotypic records of animals born in 2008 or later. Accuracies of molecular breeding values were estimated based on the genetic correlation between the molecular breeding value and trait phenotype.
With one exception, the estimated genetic correlations of within-breed molecular breeding values with trait phenotype were greater than 0.28 when evaluated in the breed used for training. Most estimated genetic correlations for the across-breed trained molecular breeding values were moderate (> 0.30). When molecular breeding values were evaluated in breeds that were not in the training set, estimated genetic correlations clustered around zero.
Even for closely related breeds, within- or across-breed trained molecular breeding values have limited prediction accuracy for breeds that were not in the training set. For breeds in the training set, across- and within-breed trained molecular breeding values had similar accuracies. The benefit of adding data from other breeds to a within-breed training population is the ability to produce molecular breeding values that are more robust across breeds and these can be utilized until enough training data has been accumulated to allow for a within-breed training set.
PMCID: PMC3765540  PMID: 23953034
22.  Pharmacogenetics in drug regulation: promise, potential and pitfalls 
Pharmacogenetic factors operate at pharmacokinetic as well as pharmacodynamic levels—the two components of the dose–response curve of a drug. Polymorphisms in drug metabolizing enzymes, transporters and/or pharmacological targets of drugs may profoundly influence the dose–response relationship between individuals. For some drugs, although retrospective data from case studies suggests that these polymorphisms are frequently associated with adverse drug reactions or failure of efficacy, the clinical utility of such data remains unproven. There is, therefore, an urgent need for prospective data to determine whether pre-treatment genotyping can improve therapy. Various regulatory guidelines already recommend exploration of the role of genetic factors when investigating a drug for its pharmacokinetics, pharmacodynamics, dose–response relationship and drug interaction potential. Arising from the global heterogeneity in the frequency of variant alleles, regulatory guidelines also require the sponsors to provide additional information, usually pharmacogenetic bridging data, to determine whether data from one ethnic population can be extrapolated to another. At present, sponsors explore pharmacogenetic influences in early clinical pharmacokinetic studies but rarely do they carry the findings forward when designing dose–response studies or pivotal studies. When appropriate, regulatory authorities include genotype-specific recommendations in the prescribing information. Sometimes, this may include the need to adjust a dose in some genotypes under specific circumstances. Detailed references to pharmacogenetics in prescribing information and pharmacogenetically based prescribing in routine therapeutics will require robust prospective data from well-designed studies. With greater integration of pharmacogenetics in drug development, regulatory authorities expect to receive more detailed genetic data. This is likely to complicate the drug evaluation process as well as result in complex prescribing information. Genotype-specific dosing regimens will have to be more precise and marketing strategies more prudent. However, not all variations in drug responses are related to pharmacogenetic polymorphisms. Drug response can be modulated by a number of non-genetic factors, especially co-medications and presence of concurrent diseases. Inappropriate prescribing frequently compounds the complexity introduced by these two important non-genetic factors. Unless prescribers adhere to the prescribing information, much of the benefits of pharmacogenetics will be squandered.
Discovering highly predictive genotype–phenotype associations during drug development and demonstrating their clinical validity and utility in well-designed prospective clinical trials will no doubt better define the role of pharmacogenetics in future clinical practice. In the meantime, prescribing should comply with the information provided while pharmacogenetic research is deservedly supported by all concerned but without unrealistic expectations.
PMCID: PMC1569525  PMID: 16096112
adverse drug reactions; dose–response; drug interactions; ethnic differences; pharmacogenetics; regulatory guidelines
23.  A SEL1L Mutation Links a Canine Progressive Early-Onset Cerebellar Ataxia to the Endoplasmic Reticulum–Associated Protein Degradation (ERAD) Machinery 
PLoS Genetics  2012;8(6):e1002759.
Inherited ataxias are characterized by degeneration of the cerebellar structures, which results in progressive motor incoordination. Hereditary ataxias occur in many species, including humans and dogs. Several mutations have been found in humans, but the genetic background has remained elusive in dogs. The Finnish Hound suffers from an early-onset progressive cerebellar ataxia. We have performed clinical, pathological, and genetic studies to describe the disease phenotype and to identify its genetic cause. Neurological examinations on ten affected dogs revealed rapidly progressing generalized cerebellar ataxia, tremors, and failure to thrive. Clinical signs were present by the age of 3 months, and cerebellar shrinkage was detectable through MRI. Pathological and histological examinations indicated cerebellum-restricted neurodegeneration. Marked loss of Purkinje cells was detected in the cerebellar cortex with secondary changes in other cortical layers. A genome-wide association study in a cohort of 31 dogs mapped the ataxia gene to a 1.5 Mb locus on canine chromosome 8 (praw = 1.1×10−7, pgenome = 7.5×10−4). Sequencing of a functional candidate gene, sel-1 suppressor of lin-12-like (SEL1L), revealed a homozygous missense mutation, c.1972T>C; p.Ser658Pro, in a highly conserved protein domain. The mutation segregated fully in the recessive pedigree, and a 10% carrier frequency was indicated in a population cohort. SEL1L is a component of the endoplasmic reticulum (ER)–associated protein degradation (ERAD) machinery and has not been previously associated to inherited ataxias. Dysfunctional protein degradation is known to cause ER stress, and we found a significant increase in expression of nine ER stress responsive genes in the cerebellar cortex of affected dogs, supporting the pathogenicity of the mutation. Our study describes the first early-onset neurodegenerative ataxia mutation in dogs, establishes an ERAD–mediated neurodegenerative disease model, and proposes SEL1L as a new candidate gene in progressive childhood ataxias. Furthermore, our results have enabled the development of a genetic test for breeders.
Author Summary
Hereditary ataxias are a heterogeneous group of rare disorders characterized by progressive cerebellar neurodegeneration. Several causative mutations have been identified in various forms of human ataxias. In addition to humans, inherited ataxias have been described in several other species, including the domestic dog. In this study, we have studied the clinical and genetic properties of cerebellar ataxia in the Finnish Hound dog breed. The breed suffers from a progressive ataxia that has an early onset before the age of 3 months. Affected puppies have difficulties in coordinating their movements and balance, and have to be euthanized due to rapidly worsening symptoms. Our pedigree analysis suggested an autosomal recessive mode of inheritance, which was confirmed by identifying a homozygous mutation in the SEL1L gene through genome-wide association and linkage analyses. The SEL1L protein functions in a protein quality control pathway that targets misfolded proteins to degradation in the endoplasmic reticulum. Mutations in the SEL1L gene have not been previously found in ataxias. Our study indicates SEL1L as a novel candidate gene for human childhood ataxias, establishes a large animal model to investigate mechanisms of cerebellar neurodegeneration, and enables carrier screening for breeding purposes.
PMCID: PMC3375262  PMID: 22719266
24.  Breed-Specific Hematological Phenotypes in the Dog: A Natural Resource for the Genetic Dissection of Hematological Parameters in a Mammalian Species 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(11):e81288.
Remarkably little has been published on hematological phenotypes of the domestic dog, the most polymorphic species on the planet. Information on the signalment and complete blood cell count of all dogs with normal red and white blood cell parameters judged by existing reference intervals was extracted from a veterinary database. Normal hematological profiles were available for 6046 dogs, 5447 of which also had machine platelet concentrations within the reference interval. Seventy-five pure breeds plus a mixed breed control group were represented by 10 or more dogs. All measured parameters except mean corpuscular hemoglobin concentration (MCHC) varied with age. Concentrations of white blood cells (WBCs), neutrophils, monocytes, lymphocytes, eosinophils and platelets, but not red blood cell parameters, all varied with sex. Neutering status had an impact on hemoglobin concentration, mean corpuscular hemoglobin (MCH), MCHC, and concentrations of WBCs, neutrophils, monocytes, lymphocytes and platelets. Principal component analysis of hematological data revealed 37 pure breeds with distinctive phenotypes. Furthermore, all hematological parameters except MCHC showed significant differences between specific individual breeds and the mixed breed group. Twenty-nine breeds had distinctive phenotypes when assessed in this way, of which 19 had already been identified by principal component analysis. Tentative breed-specific reference intervals were generated for breeds with a distinctive phenotype identified by comparative analysis. This study represents the first large-scale analysis of hematological phenotypes in the dog and underlines the important potential of this species in the elucidation of genetic determinants of hematological traits, triangulating phenotype, breed and genetic predisposition.
PMCID: PMC3840015  PMID: 24282579
25.  A Novel GUSB Mutation in Brazilian Terriers with Severe Skeletal Abnormalities Defines the Disease as Mucopolysaccharidosis VII 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(7):e40281.
Hundreds of different human skeletal disorders have been characterized at molecular level and a growing number of resembling dysplasias with orthologous genetic defects are being reported in dogs. This study describes a novel genetic defect in the Brazilian Terrier breed causing a congenital skeletal dysplasia. Affected puppies presented severe skeletal deformities observable within the first month of life. Clinical characterization using radiographic and histological methods identified delayed ossification and spondyloepiphyseal dysplasia. Pedigree analysis suggested an autosomal recessive disorder, and we performed a genome-wide association study to map the disease locus using Illumina’s 22K SNP chip arrays in seven cases and eleven controls. A single association was observed near the centromeric end of chromosome 6 with a genome-wide significance after permutation (pgenome  = 0.033). The affected dogs shared a 13-Mb homozygous region including over 200 genes. A targeted next-generation sequencing of the entire locus revealed a fully segregating missense mutation (c.866C>T) causing a pathogenic p.P289L change in a conserved functional domain of β-glucuronidase (GUSB). The mutation was confirmed in a population of 202 Brazilian terriers (p = 7,71×10−29). GUSB defects cause mucopolysaccharidosis VII (MPS VII) in several species and define the skeletal syndrome in Brazilian Terriers. Our results provide new information about the correlation of the GUSB genotype to phenotype and establish a novel canine model for MPS VII. Currently, MPS VII lacks an efficient treatment and this model could be utilized for the development and validation of therapeutic methods for better treatment of MPS VII patients. Finally, since almost one third of the Brazilian terrier population carries the mutation, breeders will benefit from a genetic test to eradicate the detrimental disease from the breed.
PMCID: PMC3395332  PMID: 22815736

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