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1.  An Insertion in the RSPO2 Gene Correlates with Improper Coat in the Portuguese Water Dog 
Journal of Heredity  2010;101(5):612-617.
We recently showed that genes at 3 loci account for the majority of variation in canine fur. Allelic variation at genes controlling length of fur, texture, and curl is responsible for the striking phenotypic variety observed among purebred dogs in the United States today. In this paper, we investigate the phenomenon of “improper coat” (IC) or a coat that is not typical of the breed. IC is occasionally observed among specific breeds, such as the Portuguese Water Dog (PWD), and is characterized by short hair on the head, face, and lower legs, rather than a thick and even coat covering the whole body. The IC is reminiscent of that observed on the curly or flat-coated retriever, thus making such dogs unable to compete effectively in conformation events. We have found that the presence of the wild-type allele, rather than the expected variant allele at the R-spondin 2 (RSPO2) gene, accounts for this phenotype. The development of a genetic test that distinguishes these 2 allelic types would allow breeders to easily avoid producing PWD with ICs.
PMCID: PMC2908740  PMID: 20562213
fur; furnishings; genetics; morphology; mutation
2.  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
3.  Polymorphisms within the canine MLPH gene are associated with dilute coat color in dogs 
BMC Genetics  2005;6:34.
Pinschers and other dogs with coat color dilution show a characteristic pigmentation phenotype. The fur colors are a lighter shade, e.g. silvery grey (blue) instead of black and a sandy color (Isabella fawn) instead of red or brown. In some dogs the coat color dilution is sometimes accompanied by hair loss and recurrent skin inflammation, the so called color dilution alopecia (CDA) or black hair follicular dysplasia (BHFD). In humans and mice a comparable pigmentation phenotype without any documented hair loss is caused by mutations within the melanophilin gene (MLPH).
We sequenced the canine MLPH gene and performed a mutation analysis of the MLPH exons in 6 Doberman Pinschers and 5 German Pinschers. A total of 48 sequence variations was identified within and between the breeds. Three families of dogs showed co-segregation for at least one polymorphism in an MLPH exon and the dilute phenotype. No single polymorphism was identified in the coding sequences or at splice sites that is likely to be causative for the dilute phenotype of all dogs examined. In 18 German Pinschers a mutation in exon 7 (R199H) was consistently associated with the dilute phenotype. However, as this mutation was present in homozygous state in four dogs of other breeds with wildtype pigmentation, it seems unlikely that this mutation is truly causative for coat color dilution. In Doberman Pinschers as well as in Large Munsterlanders with BHFD, a set of single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) around exon 2 was identified that show a highly significant association to the dilute phenotype.
This study provides evidence that coat color dilution is caused by one or more mutations within or near the MLPH gene in several dog breeds. The data on polymorphisms that are strongly associated with the dilute phenotype will allow the genetic testing of Pinschers to facilitate the breeding of dogs with defined coat colors and to select against Large Munsterlanders carrying BHFD.
PMCID: PMC1183202  PMID: 15960853
4.  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
5.  Signature of Balancing Selection at the MC1R Gene in Kunming Dog Populations 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(2):e55469.
Coat color in dog breeds is an excellent character for revealing the power of artificial selection, as it is extremely diverse and likely the result of recent domestication. Coat color is generated by melanocytes, which synthesize pheomelanin (a red or yellow pigment) or eumelanin (a black or brown pigment) through the pigment type-switching pathway, and is regulated by three genes in dogs: MC1R (melanocortin receptor 1), CBD103 (β-defensin 103), and ASIP (agouti-signaling protein precursor). The genotypes of these three gene loci in dog breeds are associated with coat color pattern. Here, we resequenced these three gene loci in two Kunming dog populations and analyzed these sequences using population genetic approaches to identify evolutionary patterns that have occurred at these loci during the recent domestication and breeding of the Kunming dog. The analysis showed that MC1R undergoes balancing selection in both Kunming dog populations, and that the Fst value for MC1R indicates significant genetic differentiation across the two populations. In contrast, similar results were not observed for CBD103 or ASIP. These results suggest that high heterozygosity and allelic differences at the MC1R locus may explain both the mixed color coat, of yellow and black, and the difference in coat colors in both Kunming dog populations.
PMCID: PMC3570536  PMID: 23424634
6.  A Copy Number Variant at the KITLG Locus Likely Confers Risk for Canine Squamous Cell Carcinoma of the Digit 
PLoS Genetics  2013;9(3):e1003409.
The domestic dog is a robust model for studying the genetics of complex disease susceptibility. The strategies used to develop and propagate modern breeds have resulted in an elevated risk for specific diseases in particular breeds. One example is that of Standard Poodles (STPOs), who have increased risk for squamous cell carcinoma of the digit (SCCD), a locally aggressive cancer that causes lytic bone lesions, sometimes with multiple toe recurrence. However, only STPOs of dark coat color are at high risk; light colored STPOs are almost entirely unaffected, suggesting that interactions between multiple pathways are necessary for oncogenesis. We performed a genome-wide association study (GWAS) on STPOs, comparing 31 SCCD cases to 34 unrelated black STPO controls. The peak SNP on canine chromosome 15 was statistically significant at the genome-wide level (Praw = 1.60×10−7; Pgenome = 0.0066). Additional mapping resolved the region to the KIT Ligand (KITLG) locus. Comparison of STPO cases to other at-risk breeds narrowed the locus to a 144.9-Kb region. Haplotype mapping among 84 STPO cases identified a minimal region of 28.3 Kb. A copy number variant (CNV) containing predicted enhancer elements was found to be strongly associated with SCCD in STPOs (P = 1.72×10−8). Light colored STPOs carry the CNV risk alleles at the same frequency as black STPOs, but are not susceptible to SCCD. A GWAS comparing 24 black and 24 light colored STPOs highlighted only the MC1R locus as significantly different between the two datasets, suggesting that a compensatory mutation within the MC1R locus likely protects light colored STPOs from disease. Our findings highlight a role for KITLG in SCCD susceptibility, as well as demonstrate that interactions between the KITLG and MC1R loci are potentially required for SCCD oncogenesis. These findings highlight how studies of breed-limited diseases are useful for disentangling multigene disorders.
Author Summary
Domesticated dogs offer a unique mechanism for disentangling complex genetic traits, such as cancer. Over 300 breeds exist worldwide, each selected for particular morphologic and behavioral traits. Unfortunately the breeding programs used to generate such diversity are associated with breed-specific increase in disease. Squamous cell carcinoma of the digit (SCCD) is a locally aggressive cancer that causes lytic bone lesions and, occasionally, death. Among the breeds with the highest risk is the Standard Poodle (STPO), where the disease is found only in dark-coated dogs. We show that the KITLG locus is highly associated with SCCD and that a 5.7-Kb copy number variant is likely causative for the disease when in an expanded form. Interestingly, light-colored STPO carry the putative causal variant at the same frequency as black STPOs, but are protected from SCCD. We show this is likely due to a compensatory mutation in the well-known coat color locus, MC1R. This work demonstrates the utility of dog breeds for understanding the genetic causes of complex diseases of interest to both human and animal health.
PMCID: PMC3610924  PMID: 23555311
7.  Classic Selective Sweeps Revealed by Massive Sequencing in Cattle 
PLoS Genetics  2014;10(2):e1004148.
Human driven selection during domestication and subsequent breed formation has likely left detectable signatures within the genome of modern cattle. The elucidation of these signatures of selection is of interest from the perspective of evolutionary biology, and for identifying domestication-related genes that ultimately may help to further genetically improve this economically important animal. To this end, we employed a panel of more than 15 million autosomal SNPs identified from re-sequencing of 43 Fleckvieh animals. We mainly applied two somewhat complementary statistics, the integrated Haplotype Homozygosity Score (iHS) reflecting primarily ongoing selection, and the Composite of Likelihood Ratio (CLR) having the most power to detect completed selection after fixation of the advantageous allele. We find 106 candidate selection regions, many of which are harboring genes related to phenotypes relevant in domestication, such as coat coloring pattern, neurobehavioral functioning and sensory perception including KIT, MITF, MC1R, NRG4, Erbb4, TMEM132D and TAS2R16, among others. To further investigate the relationship between genes with signatures of selection and genes identified in QTL mapping studies, we use a sample of 3062 animals to perform four genome-wide association analyses using appearance traits, body size and somatic cell count. We show that regions associated with coat coloring significantly (P<0.0001) overlap with the candidate selection regions, suggesting that the selection signals we identify are associated with traits known to be affected by selection during domestication. Results also provide further evidence regarding the complexity of the genetics underlying coat coloring in cattle. This study illustrates the potential of population genetic approaches for identifying genomic regions affecting domestication-related phenotypes and further helps to identify specific regions targeted by selection during speciation, domestication and breed formation of cattle. We also show that Linkage Disequilibrium (LD) decays in cattle at a much faster rate than previously thought.
Author Summary
Domestication of cattle had a major impact on human civilization by providing protein and physical power for agrarian life style. Domestication followed by breed formation has likely left detectable signatures within the genome of modern cattle. Current cattle breeds, for instance, have a more uniform appearance and milder temper than their wild ancestors. The elucidation of these signatures of selection is of interest to identify domestication-related genes that help to genetically improve this economically important species. The development of novel sequencing technologies has enabled higher-resolution genomic analyses of past selection. In this paper, we exploited whole genome sequencing along with multiple statistical metrics to identify regions/genes putatively targeted by selection. We show strong signals of selection near to several candidate genes related to domesticated phenotypes such as coat coloring, neurobehavioral functioning and sensory perception, including KIT, MITF, MC1R, NRG4, Erbb4, TMEM132D and TAS2R16. By means of association mapping we additionally show that candidate selection regions for appearance traits overlap with major coat color QTLs. Our study demonstrates the utility of population based techniques for detecting past selection and is the first attempt to localize signatures of past selection in cattle based on massive re-sequencing of the entire genome.
PMCID: PMC3937232  PMID: 24586189
8.  Genome-Wide Analysis of the World's Sheep Breeds Reveals High Levels of Historic Mixture and Strong Recent Selection 
PLoS Biology  2012;10(2):e1001258.
Genomic structure in a global collection of domesticated sheep reveals a history of artificial selection for horn loss and traits relating to pigmentation, reproduction, and body size.
Through their domestication and subsequent selection, sheep have been adapted to thrive in a diverse range of environments. To characterise the genetic consequence of both domestication and selection, we genotyped 49,034 SNP in 2,819 animals from a diverse collection of 74 sheep breeds. We find the majority of sheep populations contain high SNP diversity and have retained an effective population size much higher than most cattle or dog breeds, suggesting domestication occurred from a broad genetic base. Extensive haplotype sharing and generally low divergence time between breeds reveal frequent genetic exchange has occurred during the development of modern breeds. A scan of the genome for selection signals revealed 31 regions containing genes for coat pigmentation, skeletal morphology, body size, growth, and reproduction. We demonstrate the strongest selection signal has occurred in response to breeding for the absence of horns. The high density map of genetic variability provides an in-depth view of the genetic history for this important livestock species.
Author Summary
During the process of domestication, mankind recruited animals from the wild into a captive environment, changing their morphology, behaviour, and genetics. In the case of sheep, domestication and subsequent selection by their animal handlers over thousands of years has produced a spectrum of breeds specialised for the production of wool, milk, and meat. We sought to use this population history to search for the genes that directly underpin phenotypic variation. We collected DNA from 2,819 sheep, belonging to 74 breeds sampled from around the world, and assessed the genotype of each animal at nearly 50,000 locations across the genome. Our results show that sheep breeds have maintained high levels of genetic diversity, in contrast to other domestic animals such as dogs. We also show that particular regions of the genome contain strong evidence for accelerated change in response to artificial selection. The most prominent example was identified in response to breeding for the absence of horns, a trait now common across many modern breeds. Furthermore, we demonstrate that other genomic regions under selection in sheep contain genes controlling pigmentation, reproduction, and body size.
PMCID: PMC3274507  PMID: 22346734
9.  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
10.  To the Root of the Curl: A Signature of a Recent Selective Sweep Identifies a Mutation That Defines the Cornish Rex Cat Breed 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(6):e67105.
The cat (Felis silvestris catus) shows significant variation in pelage, morphological, and behavioral phenotypes amongst its over 40 domesticated breeds. The majority of the breed specific phenotypic presentations originated through artificial selection, especially on desired novel phenotypic characteristics that arose only a few hundred years ago. Variations in coat texture and color of hair often delineate breeds amongst domestic animals. Although the genetic basis of several feline coat colors and hair lengths are characterized, less is known about the genes influencing variation in coat growth and texture, especially rexoid – curly coated types. Cornish Rex is a cat breed defined by a fixed recessive curly coat trait. Genome-wide analyses for selection (di, Tajima’s D and nucleotide diversity) were performed in the Cornish Rex breed and in 11 phenotypically diverse breeds and two random bred populations. Approximately 63K SNPs were used in the analysis that aimed to localize the locus controlling the rexoid hair texture. A region with a strong signature of recent selective sweep was identified in the Cornish Rex breed on chromosome A1, as well as a consensus block of homozygosity that spans approximately 3 Mb. Inspection of the region for candidate genes led to the identification of the lysophosphatidic acid receptor 6 (LPAR6). A 4 bp deletion in exon 5, c.250_253_delTTTG, which induces a premature stop codon in the receptor, was identified via Sanger sequencing. The mutation is fixed in Cornish Rex, absent in all straight haired cats analyzed, and is also segregating in the German Rex breed. LPAR6 encodes a G protein-coupled receptor essential for maintaining the structural integrity of the hair shaft; and has mutations resulting in a wooly hair phenotype in humans.
PMCID: PMC3694948  PMID: 23826204
11.  Genome Sequencing Highlights the Dynamic Early History of Dogs 
PLoS Genetics  2014;10(1):e1004016.
To identify genetic changes underlying dog domestication and reconstruct their early evolutionary history, we generated high-quality genome sequences from three gray wolves, one from each of the three putative centers of dog domestication, two basal dog lineages (Basenji and Dingo) and a golden jackal as an outgroup. Analysis of these sequences supports a demographic model in which dogs and wolves diverged through a dynamic process involving population bottlenecks in both lineages and post-divergence gene flow. In dogs, the domestication bottleneck involved at least a 16-fold reduction in population size, a much more severe bottleneck than estimated previously. A sharp bottleneck in wolves occurred soon after their divergence from dogs, implying that the pool of diversity from which dogs arose was substantially larger than represented by modern wolf populations. We narrow the plausible range for the date of initial dog domestication to an interval spanning 11–16 thousand years ago, predating the rise of agriculture. In light of this finding, we expand upon previous work regarding the increase in copy number of the amylase gene (AMY2B) in dogs, which is believed to have aided digestion of starch in agricultural refuse. We find standing variation for amylase copy number variation in wolves and little or no copy number increase in the Dingo and Husky lineages. In conjunction with the estimated timing of dog origins, these results provide additional support to archaeological finds, suggesting the earliest dogs arose alongside hunter-gathers rather than agriculturists. Regarding the geographic origin of dogs, we find that, surprisingly, none of the extant wolf lineages from putative domestication centers is more closely related to dogs, and, instead, the sampled wolves form a sister monophyletic clade. This result, in combination with dog-wolf admixture during the process of domestication, suggests that a re-evaluation of past hypotheses regarding dog origins is necessary.
Author Summary
The process of dog domestication is still poorly understood, largely because no studies thus far have leveraged deeply sequenced whole genomes from wolves and dogs to simultaneously evaluate support for the proposed source regions: East Asia, the Middle East, and Europe. To investigate dog origins, we sequence three wolf genomes from the putative centers of origin, two basal dog breeds (Basenji and Dingo), and a golden jackal as an outgroup. We find that none of the wolf lineages from the hypothesized domestication centers is supported as the source lineage for dogs, and that dogs and wolves diverged 11,000–16,000 years ago in a process involving extensive admixture and that was followed by a bottleneck in wolves. In addition, we investigate the amylase (AMY2B) gene family expansion in dogs, which has recently been suggested as being critical to domestication in response to increased dietary starch. We find standing variation in AMY2B copy number in wolves and show that some breeds, such as Dingo and Husky, lack the AMY2B expansion. This suggests that, at the beginning of the domestication process, dogs may have been characterized by a more carnivorous diet than their modern day counterparts, a diet held in common with early hunter-gatherers.
PMCID: PMC3894170  PMID: 24453982
12.  Analysis of structural diversity in wolf-like canids reveals post-domestication variants 
BMC Genomics  2014;15(1):465.
Although a variety of genetic changes have been implicated in causing phenotypic differences among dogs, the role of copy number variants (CNVs) and their impact on phenotypic variation is still poorly understood. Further, very limited knowledge exists on structural variation in the gray wolf, the ancestor of the dog, or other closely related wild canids. Documenting CNVs variation in wild canids is essential to identify ancestral states and variation that may have appeared after domestication.
In this work, we genotyped 1,611 dog CNVs in 23 wolf-like canids (4 purebred dogs, one dingo, 15 gray wolves, one red wolf, one coyote and one golden jackal) to identify CNVs that may have arisen after domestication. We have found an increase in GC-rich regions close to the breakpoints and around 1 kb away from them suggesting that some common motifs might be associated with the formation of CNVs. Among the CNV regions that showed the largest differentiation between dogs and wild canids we found 12 genes, nine of which are related to two known functions associated with dog domestication; growth (PDE4D, CRTC3 and NEB) and neurological function (PDE4D, EML5, ZNF500, SLC6A11, ELAVL2, RGS7 and CTSB).
Our results provide insight into the evolution of structural variation in canines, where recombination is not regulated by PRDM9 due to the inactivation of this gene. We also identified genes within the most differentiated CNV regions between dogs and wolves, which could reflect selection during the domestication process.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/1471-2164-15-465) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4070573  PMID: 24923435
Domestication; CNV; Candidate genes; Dog and wolf
13.  The insulin-like growth factor 1 receptor (IGF1R) contributes to reduced size in dogs 
Domestic dog breeds have undergone intense selection for a variety of morphologic features, including size. Among small-dog breeds, defined as those averaging less than ~15 in. at the withers, there remains still considerable variation in body size. Yet essentially all such dogs are fixed for the same allele at the insulin-like growth factor 1 gene, which we and others previously found to be a size locus of large effect. In this study we sought to identify additional genes that contribute to tiny size in dogs using an association scan with the single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) dataset CanMap, in which 915 purebred dogs were genotyped at 60,968 SNP markers. Our strongest association for tiny size (defined as breed-average height not more than 10 in. at the withers) was on canine chromosome 3 (p = 1.9 × 10−70). Fine mapping revealed a nonsynonymous SNP at chr3:44,706,389 that changes a highly conserved arginine at amino acid 204 to histidine in the insulin-like growth factor 1 receptor (IGF1R). This mutation is predicted to prevent formation of several hydrogen bonds within the cysteine-rich domain of the receptor’s ligand-binding extracellular subunit. Nine of 13 tiny dog breeds carry the mutation and many dogs are homozygous for it. This work underscores the central importance of the IGF1 pathway in controlling the tremendous size diversity of dogs.
PMCID: PMC3511640  PMID: 22903739
14.  Identification of horse chestnut coat color genotype using SNaPshot® 
BMC Research Notes  2009;2:255.
The Cantabrian Coast horse breeds of the Iberian Peninsula have mainly black or bay colored coats, but alleles responsible for a chestnut coat color run in these breeds and occasionally, chestnut horses are born. Chestnut coat color is caused by two recessive alleles, e and ea, of the melanocortin-1 receptor gene, whereas the presence of the dominant, wild-type E allele produces black or bay coat horses. Because black or bay colored coats are considered as the purebred phenotype for most of the breeds from this region, it is important to have a fast and reliable method to detect alleles causing chestnut coat color in horses.
In order to assess coat color genotype in reproductive animals with a view to avoiding those bearing chestnut alleles, we have developed a reliable, fast and cost-effective screening device which involves Single Nucleotide Polymorphism (SNP) detection based on SNaPshot® (Applied Biosystems) methodology. We have applied this method to four native breeds from the Iberian Cantabrian Coast: Pottoka and Jaca Navarra pony breeds, in which only black or bay coats are acceptable, and Euskal Herriko Mendiko Zaldia and Burguete heavy breeds, in which chestnut coats are acceptable. The frequency of the chestnut alleles ranged between f = 0.156-0.322 in pony breeds and between f = 0.604-0.716 in heavy breeds.
This study demonstrates the usefulness of the DNA methodology reported herein as a device for identifying chestnut alleles; the methodology constitutes a valuable tool for breeders to decrease the incidence of chestnut animals among Cantabrian Coast pony breeds.
PMCID: PMC2805676  PMID: 20015355
15.  Genome-Wide Footprints of Pig Domestication and Selection Revealed through Massive Parallel Sequencing of Pooled DNA 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(4):e14782.
Artificial selection has caused rapid evolution in domesticated species. The identification of selection footprints across domesticated genomes can contribute to uncover the genetic basis of phenotypic diversity.
Methodology/Main Findings
Genome wide footprints of pig domestication and selection were identified using massive parallel sequencing of pooled reduced representation libraries (RRL) representing ∼2% of the genome from wild boar and four domestic pig breeds (Large White, Landrace, Duroc and Pietrain) which have been under strong selection for muscle development, growth, behavior and coat color. Using specifically developed statistical methods that account for DNA pooling, low mean sequencing depth, and sequencing errors, we provide genome-wide estimates of nucleotide diversity and genetic differentiation in pig. Widespread signals suggestive of positive and balancing selection were found and the strongest signals were observed in Pietrain, one of the breeds most intensively selected for muscle development. Most signals were population-specific but affected genomic regions which harbored genes for common biological categories including coat color, brain development, muscle development, growth, metabolism, olfaction and immunity. Genetic differentiation in regions harboring genes related to muscle development and growth was higher between breeds than between a given breed and the wild boar.
These results, suggest that although domesticated breeds have experienced similar selective pressures, selection has acted upon different genes. This might reflect the multiple domestication events of European breeds or could be the result of subsequent introgression of Asian alleles. Overall, it was estimated that approximately 7% of the porcine genome has been affected by selection events. This study illustrates that the massive parallel sequencing of genomic pools is a cost-effective approach to identify footprints of selection.
PMCID: PMC3070695  PMID: 21483733
16.  Signatures of Diversifying Selection in European Pig Breeds 
PLoS Genetics  2013;9(4):e1003453.
Following domestication, livestock breeds have experienced intense selection pressures for the development of desirable traits. This has resulted in a large diversity of breeds that display variation in many phenotypic traits, such as coat colour, muscle composition, early maturity, growth rate, body size, reproduction, and behaviour. To better understand the relationship between genomic composition and phenotypic diversity arising from breed development, the genomes of 13 traditional and commercial European pig breeds were scanned for signatures of diversifying selection using the Porcine60K SNP chip, applying a between-population (differentiation) approach. Signatures of diversifying selection between breeds were found in genomic regions associated with traits related to breed standard criteria, such as coat colour and ear morphology. Amino acid differences in the EDNRB gene appear to be associated with one of these signatures, and variation in the KITLG gene may be associated with another. Other selection signals were found in genomic regions including QTLs and genes associated with production traits such as reproduction, growth, and fat deposition. Some selection signatures were associated with regions showing evidence of introgression from Asian breeds. When the European breeds were compared with wild boar, genomic regions with high levels of differentiation harboured genes related to bone formation, growth, and fat deposition.
Author Summary
The domestic pig, an important source of protein worldwide, was domesticated from the ancestral wild boar in multiple locations throughout the world. In Europe, local types were developed following domestication, but phenotypically distinct breeds only arose in the eighteenth century with the advent of systematic breeding. Recently developed molecular tools for pigs (as well as other livestock species) now allow a genetic characterisation of breed histories, including identification of regions of the genome that have been under selection in the establishment of breeds. We have applied these tools to identify genomic regions associated with breed development in a set of commercial and traditional pig breeds. We found strong evidence of genetic differentiation between breeds near genes associated with traits that are used to define breed standards, such as ear morphology and coat colour, as well as in regions of the genome that are associated with pork production traits. It is well documented that crosses with Asian pigs have been used to modify European breeds. We have found evidence of genetic influence from Asian pigs in European breeds, again in regions of the genome associated with breed standard characteristics, including ear shape and coat colour, as well as production traits.
PMCID: PMC3636142  PMID: 23637623
17.  Parallel Mapping and Simultaneous Sequencing Reveals Deletions in BCAN and FAM83H Associated with Discrete Inherited Disorders in a Domestic Dog Breed 
PLoS Genetics  2012;8(1):e1002462.
The domestic dog (Canis familiaris) segregates more naturally-occurring diseases and phenotypic variation than any other species and has become established as an unparalled model with which to study the genetics of inherited traits. We used a genome-wide association study (GWAS) and targeted resequencing of DNA from just five dogs to simultaneously map and identify mutations for two distinct inherited disorders that both affect a single breed, the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. We investigated episodic falling (EF), a paroxysmal exertion-induced dyskinesia, alongside the phenotypically distinct condition congenital keratoconjunctivitis sicca and ichthyosiform dermatosis (CKCSID), commonly known as dry eye curly coat syndrome. EF is characterised by episodes of exercise-induced muscular hypertonicity and abnormal posturing, usually occurring after exercise or periods of excitement. CKCSID is a congenital disorder that manifests as a rough coat present at birth, with keratoconjunctivitis sicca apparent on eyelid opening at 10–14 days, followed by hyperkeratinisation of footpads and distortion of nails that develops over the next few months. We undertook a GWAS with 31 EF cases, 23 CKCSID cases, and a common set of 38 controls and identified statistically associated signals for EF and CKCSID on chromosome 7 (Praw 1.9×10−14; Pgenome = 1.0×10−5) and chromosome 13 (Praw 1.2×10−17; Pgenome = 1.0×10−5), respectively. We resequenced both the EF and CKCSID disease-associated regions in just five dogs and identified a 15,724 bp deletion spanning three exons of BCAN associated with EF and a single base-pair exonic deletion in FAM83H associated with CKCSID. Neither BCAN or FAM83H have been associated with equivalent disease phenotypes in any other species, thus demonstrating the ability to use the domestic dog to study the genetic basis of more than one disease simultaneously in a single breed and to identify multiple novel candidate genes in parallel.
PMCID: PMC3257292  PMID: 22253609
18.  A genetic dissection of breed composition and performance enhancement in the Alaskan sled dog 
BMC Genetics  2010;11:71.
The Alaskan sled dog offers a rare opportunity to investigate the development of a dog breed based solely on performance, rather than appearance, thus setting the breed apart from most others. Several established breeds, many of which are recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC), have been introduced into the sled dog population to enhance racing performance. We have used molecular methods to ascertain the constitutive breeds used to develop successful sled dog lines, and in doing so, determined the breed origins of specific performance-related behaviors.
One hundred and ninety-nine Alaskan sled dogs were genotyped using 96 microsatellite markers that span the canine genome. These data were compared to that from 141 similarly genotyped purebred dog breeds. Sled dogs were evaluated for breed composition based on a variety of performance phenotypes including speed, endurance and work ethic, and the data stratified based on population structure.
We observe that the Alaskan sled dog has a unique molecular signature and that the genetic profile is sufficient for identifying dogs bred for sprint versus distance. When evaluating contributions of existing breeds we find that the Alaskan Malamute and Siberian Husky contributions are associated with enhanced endurance; Pointer and Saluki are associated with enhanced speed and the Anatolian Shepherd demonstrates a positive influence on work ethic.
We have established a genetic breed profile for the Alaskan sled dog, identified profile variance between sprint and distance dogs, and established breeds associated with enhanced performance attributes. These data set the stage for mapping studies aimed at finding genes that are associated with athletic attributes integral to the high performing Alaskan sled dog.
PMCID: PMC2920855  PMID: 20649949
19.  Coat colour in dogs: identification of the Merle locus in the Australian shepherd breed 
Coat colours in canines have many natural phenotypic variants. Some of the genes and alleles involved also cause genetic developmental defects, which are also observed in humans and mice. We studied the genetic bases of the merle phenotype in dogs to shed light on the pigmentation mechanisms and to identify genes involved in these complex pathways. The merle phenotype includes a lack of eumelanic pigmentation and developmental defects, hearing impairments and microphthalmia. It is similar to that observed in microphthalmia mouse mutants.
Taking advantage of the dog as a powerful genetic model and using recently available genomic resources, we investigated the segregation of the merle phenotype in a five-generation pedigree, comprising 96 sampled Australian shepherd dogs. Genetic linkage analysis allowed us to identify a locus for the merle phenotype, spanning 5.5 megabases, at the centromeric tip of canine chromosome 10 (CFA10). This locus was supported by a Lod score of 15.65 at a recombination fraction θ = 0. Linkage analysis in three other breeds revealed that the same region is linked to the merle phenotype. This region, which is orthologous to human chromosome 12 (HSA12 q13-q14), belongs to a conserved ordered segment in the human and mouse genome and comprises several genes potentially involved in pigmentation and development.
This study has identified the locus for the merle coat colour in dogs to be at the centromeric end of CFA10. Genetic studies on other breeds segregating the merle phenotype should allow the locus to be defined more accurately with the aim of identifying the gene. This work shows the power of the canine system to search for the genetic bases of mammalian pigmentation and developmental pathways.
PMCID: PMC1431520  PMID: 16504149
20.  Contrasting Mode of Evolution at a Coat Color Locus in Wild and Domestic Pigs 
PLoS Genetics  2009;5(1):e1000341.
Despite having only begun ∼10,000 years ago, the process of domestication has resulted in a degree of phenotypic variation within individual species normally associated with much deeper evolutionary time scales. Though many variable traits found in domestic animals are the result of relatively recent human-mediated selection, uncertainty remains as to whether the modern ubiquity of long-standing variable traits such as coat color results from selection or drift, and whether the underlying alleles were present in the wild ancestor or appeared after domestication began. Here, through an investigation of sequence diversity at the porcine melanocortin receptor 1 (MC1R) locus, we provide evidence that wild and domestic pig (Sus scrofa) haplotypes from China and Europe are the result of strikingly different selection pressures, and that coat color variation is the result of intentional selection for alleles that appeared after the advent of domestication. Asian and European wild boar (evolutionarily distinct subspecies) differed only by synonymous substitutions, demonstrating that camouflage coat color is maintained by purifying selection. In domestic pigs, however, each of nine unique mutations altered the amino acid sequence thus generating coat color diversity. Most domestic MC1R alleles differed by more than one mutation from the wild-type, implying a long history of strong positive selection for coat color variants, during which time humans have cherry-picked rare mutations that would be quickly eliminated in wild contexts. This pattern demonstrates that coat color phenotypes result from direct human selection and not via a simple relaxation of natural selective pressures.
Author Summary
This study addresses why coat colors of domestic animals are so variable, while those of their wild ancestors are so uniform. Specifically, we asked whether this was the result of (i) relaxed purifying selection, (ii) that some mutations affect both coat color and another trait under strong selection (for instance behavior), or (iii) direct human selection for altered coat color phenotypes. We investigated genetic variation in the melanocortin receptor 1 (MC1R) gene among wild and domestic pigs from both Europe and Asia. Though we found a similar number of mutations in wild and domestic pigs, the nature of the mutations was strikingly different. All mutations found among wild boars were silent, i.e., they did not change the protein sequence. This implies strong purifying selection in the wild that maintains camouflage coat color. In contrast, nine out of ten mutations found in domestic pigs altered the protein sequence, thereby drastically transforming the resulting coat color. These results demonstrate that early farmers intentionally selected pigs with novel coat coloring. Their motivations could have been as simple as a preference for the exotic or selection for reduced camouflage to facilitate animal husbandry and/or to make the domesticated forms distinct from their wild ancestor.
PMCID: PMC2613536  PMID: 19148282
21.  SLC3A1 and SLC7A9 Mutations in Autosomal Recessive or Dominant Canine Cystinuria: A New Classification System 
Cystinuria, one of the first recognized inborn errors of metabolism, has been reported in many dog breeds.
To determine urinary cystine concentrations, inheritance and mutations in the SLC3A1 and SLC7A9 genes associated with cystinuria in 3 breeds.
Mixed and purebred Labrador Retrievers (n=6), Australian Cattle Dogs (6), Miniature Pinschers (4) and 1 mixed breed dog with cystine urolithiasis, relatives and control dogs.
Urinary cystinuria and aminoaciduria was assessed and exons of the SLC3A1 and SLC7A9 genes were sequenced from genomic DNA.
In each breed, male and female dogs, independent of neuter status, were found to form calculi. A frameshift mutation in SLC3A1 (c.350delG) resulting in a premature stop codon was identified in autosomal-recessive (AR) cystinuria in Labrador Retrievers and mixed breed dogs. A 6 bp deletion (c.1095_1100del) removing 2 threonines in SLC3A1 was found in autosomal-dominant (AD) cystinuria with a more severe phenotype in homozygous than in heterozygous Australian Cattle Dogs. A missense mutation in SLC7A9 (c.964G>A) was discovered in AD cystinuria in Miniature Pinschers with only heterozygous affected dogs observed to date. Breed specific DNA tests were developed, but the prevalence of each mutation remains unknown.
Conclusions and clinical importance
These studies describe the first AD inheritance and the first putative SLC7A9 mutation to cause cystinuria in dogs and expand our understanding of this phenotypically and genetically heterogeneous disease, leading to a new classification system for canine cystinuria and better therapeutic management and genetic control in these breeds.
PMCID: PMC3946761  PMID: 24001348
Metabolic disease; urolithiasis; nephropathy; hereditary disease
22.  Genomic deletion of CNGB3 is identical by descent in multiple canine breeds and causes achromatopsia 
BMC Genetics  2013;14:27.
Achromatopsia is an autosomal recessive disease characterized by the loss of cone photoreceptor function that results in day-blindness, total colorblindness, and decreased central visual acuity. The most common causes for the disease are mutations in the CNGB3 gene, coding for the beta subunit of the cyclic nucleotide-gated channels in cones. CNGB3-achromatopsia, or cone degeneration (cd), is also known to occur in two canine breeds, the Alaskan malamute (AM) and the German shorthaired pointer.
Here we report an in-depth characterization of the achromatopsia phenotype in a new canine breed, the miniature Australian shepherd (MAS). Genotyping revealed that the dog was homozygous for a complete genomic deletion of the CNGB3 gene, as has been previously observed in the AM. Identical breakpoints on chromosome 29 were identified in both the affected AM and MAS with a resulting deletion of 404,820 bp. Pooled DNA samples of unrelated purebred Australian shepherd, MAS, Siberian husky, Samoyed and Alaskan sled dogs were screened for the presence of the affected allele; one Siberian husky and three Alaskan sled dogs were identified as carriers. The affected chromosomes from the AM, MAS, and Siberian husky were genotyped for 147 SNPs in a 3.93 Mb interval within the cd locus. An identical shared affected haplotype, 0.5 Mb long, was observed in all three breeds and defined the minimal linkage disequilibrium (LD) across breeds. This supports the idea that the mutated allele was identical by descent (IBD).
We report the occurrence of CNGB3-achromatopsia in a new canine breed, the MAS. The CNGB3-deletion allele previously described in the AM was also observed in a homozygous state in the affected MAS, as well as in a heterozygous carrier state in a Siberian husky and Alaskan sled dogs. All affected alleles were shown to be IBD, strongly suggesting an affected founder effect. Since the MAS is not known to be genetically related to the AM, other breeds may potentially carry the same cd-allele and be affected by achromatopsia.
PMCID: PMC3639114  PMID: 23601474
Achromatopsia; Alaskan malamute; Alaskan sled dog; Australian shepherd; Cone degeneration; CNGB3; Day-blindness; Identical by descent; Siberian husky
23.  A splice variant in KRT71 is associated with curly coat phenotype of Selkirk Rex cats 
Scientific Reports  2013;3:2000.
One of the salient features of the domestic cat is the aesthetics of its fur. The Selkirk Rex breed is defined by an autosomal dominant woolly rexoid hair (ADWH) abnormality that is characterized by tightly curled hair shafts. A genome-wide case – control association study was conducted using 9 curly coated Selkirk Rex and 29 controls, including straight-coated Selkirk Rex, British Shorthair and Persian, to localize the Selkirk autosomal dominant rexoid locus (SADRE). Although the control cats were from different breed lineages, they share recent breeding histories and were validated as controls by Bayesian clustering, multi-dimensional scaling and genomic inflation. A significant association was found on cat chromosome B4 (Praw = 2.87 × 10−11), and a unique haplotype spanning ~600 Kb was found in all the curly coated cats. Direct sequencing of four candidate genes revealed a splice site variant within the KRT71 gene associated with the hair abnormality in Selkirk Rex.
PMCID: PMC3683669  PMID: 23770706
24.  Mutations in MC1R Gene Determine Black Coat Color Phenotype in Chinese Sheep 
The Scientific World Journal  2013;2013:675382.
The melanocortin receptor 1 (MC1R) plays a central role in regulation of animal coat color formation. In this study, we sequenced the complete coding region and parts of the 5′- and 3′-untranslated regions of the MC1R gene in Chinese sheep with completely white (Large-tailed Han sheep), black (Minxian Black-fur sheep), and brown coat colors (Kazakh Fat-Rumped sheep). The results showed five single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs): two non-synonymous mutations previously associated with coat color (c.218 T>A, p.73 Met>Lys. c.361 G>A, p.121 Asp>Asn) and three synonymous mutations (c.429 C>T, p.143 Tyr>Tyr; c.600 T>G, p.200 Leu>Leu. c.735 C>T, p.245 Ile>Ile). Meanwhile, all mutations were detected in Minxian Black-fur sheep. However, the two nonsynonymous mutation sites were not in all studied breeds (Large-tailed Han, Small-tailed Han, Gansu Alpine Merino, and China Merino breeds), all of which are in white coat. A single haplotype AATGT (haplotype3) was uniquely associated with black coat color in Minxian Black-fur breed (P = 9.72E − 72, chi-square test). The first and second A alleles in this haplotype 3 represent location at 218 and 361 positions, respectively. Our results suggest that the mutations of MC1R gene are associated with black coat color phenotype in Chinese sheep.
PMCID: PMC3776380  PMID: 24082855
25.  A Partial Gene Deletion of SLC45A2 Causes Oculocutaneous Albinism in Doberman Pinscher Dogs 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(3):e92127.
The first white Doberman pinscher (WDP) dog was registered by the American Kennel Club in 1976. The novelty of the white coat color resulted in extensive line breeding of this dog and her offspring. The WDP phenotype closely resembles human oculocutaneous albinism (OCA) and clinicians noticed a seemingly high prevalence of pigmented masses on these dogs. This study had three specific aims: (1) produce a detailed description of the ocular phenotype of WDPs, (2) objectively determine if an increased prevalence of ocular and cutaneous melanocytic tumors was present in WDPs, and (3) determine if a genetic mutation in any of the genes known to cause human OCA is causal for the WDP phenotype. WDPs have a consistent ocular phenotype of photophobia, hypopigmented adnexal structures, blue irides with a tan periphery and hypopigmented retinal pigment epithelium and choroid. WDPs have a higher prevalence of cutaneous melanocytic neoplasms compared with control standard color Doberman pinschers (SDPs); cutaneous tumors were noted in 12/20 WDP (<5 years of age: 4/12; >5 years of age: 8/8) and 1/20 SDPs (p<0.00001). Using exclusion analysis, four OCA causative genes were investigated for their association with WDP phenotype; TYR, OCA2, TYRP1 and SLC45A2. SLC45A2 was found to be linked to the phenotype and gene sequencing revealed a 4,081 base pair deletion resulting in loss of the terminus of exon seven of SLC45A2 (chr4∶77,062,968–77,067,051). This mutation is highly likely to be the cause of the WDP phenotype and is supported by a lack of detectable SLC45A2 transcript levels by reverse transcriptase PCR. The WDP provides a valuable model for studying OCA4 visual disturbances and melanocytic neoplasms in a large animal model.
PMCID: PMC3960214  PMID: 24647637

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