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1.  The MTAP-CDKN2A Locus Confers Susceptibility to a Naturally Occurring Canine Cancer 
Advantages offered by canine population substructure, combined with clinical presentations similar to human disorders, makes the dog an attractive system for studies of cancer genetics. Cancers that have been difficult to study in human families or populations are of particular interest. Histiocytic sarcoma is a rare and poorly understood neoplasm in humans that occurs in 15–25% of Bernese Mountain Dogs (BMD).
Genomic DNA was collected from affected and unaffected BMD in North America (NA) and Europe. Both independent and combined genome wide association studies (GWAS) were used to identify cancer-associated loci. Fine mapping and sequencing narrowed the primary locus to a single gene region.
Both populations shared the same primary locus, which features a single haplotype spanning MTAP and part of CDKN2A and is present in 96% of affected BMD. The haplotype is within the region homologous to human chromosome 9p21, which has been implicated in several types of cancer.
We present the first GWAS for HS in any species. The data identify an associated haplotype in the highly cited tumor suppressor locus near CDKN2A. These data demonstrate the power of studying distinctive malignancies in highly predisposed dog breeds.
Here, we establish a naturally-occurring model of cancer susceptibility due to CDKN2 dysregulation, thus providing insight regarding this cancer-associated, complex, and poorly understood genomic region.
PMCID: PMC3392365  PMID: 22623710
Genome Wide Association Study; Dogs; p16; Cancer; Histiocytic sarcoma
2.  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
3.  Coat Variation in the Domestic Dog Is Governed by Variants in Three Genes 
Science (New York, N.Y.)  2009;326(5949):150-153.
Coat color and type are essential characteristics of domestic dog breeds. Although the genetic basis of coat color has been well characterized, relatively little is known about the genes influencing coat growth pattern, length, and curl. We performed genome-wide association studies of more than 1000 dogs from 80 domestic breeds to identify genes associated with canine fur phenotypes. Taking advantage of both inter- and intrabreed variability, we identified distinct mutations in three genes, RSPO2, FGF5, and KRT71 (encoding R-spondin–2, fibroblast growth factor–5, and keratin-71, respectively), that together account for most coat phenotypes in purebred dogs in the United States. Thus, an array of varied and seemingly complex phenotypes can be reduced to the combinatorial effects of only a few genes.
PMCID: PMC2897713  PMID: 19713490
4.  Epidemiology, Pathology, and Genetics of Histiocytic Sarcoma in the Bernese Mountain Dog Breed 
Journal of Heredity  2009;100(Suppl 1):S19-S27.
Histiocytic sarcoma (HS) refers to a highly aggressive and frequently disseminated neoplastic disease belonging to the class of canine histiocytic proliferative disorders. Disseminated HS (previously called malignant histiocytosis) is highly breed specific, with Bernese mountain dogs (BMDs), rottweilers, and retrievers having a high prevalence with a frequency of approximately 25% in the BMD breed. We collected DNA samples and clinical information from 800 BMDs, of which 200 are affected by HS. To better characterize the physiopathology and epidemiology, an in-depth analysis of 89 BMD cases has been performed. The mean age of onset was 6.5 years, males and females being equally affected. The clinical features, biochemical parameters, and pathological features have been determined. The life span after diagnosis has been estimated to be 49 days. A large BMD pedigree of 327 dogs, 121 of which are affected, was assembled. Using a subset of 160 BMDs, encompassing 21 complete sibships, we now propose an oligogenic transmission mode of the disease. Whole-genome linkage scans as well as association studies using a case/control analysis, in parallel with expression profiling of neoplastic versus normal histiocytes, are all underway. Altogether, these complementary approaches are expected to localize the genes for HS in the BMD, leading to advances in our knowledge of histiocyte diseases in dogs and humans.
PMCID: PMC3139364  PMID: 19531730
Bernese mountain dogs; cancer; dog; genetics; histiocytic sarcoma
5.  Canine Population Structure: Assessment and Impact of Intra-Breed Stratification on SNP-Based Association Studies 
PLoS ONE  2007;2(12):e1324.
In canine genetics, the impact of population structure on whole genome association studies is typically addressed by sampling approximately equal numbers of cases and controls from dogs of a single breed, usually from the same country or geographic area. However one way to increase the power of genetic studies is to sample individuals of the same breed but from different geographic areas, with the expectation that independent meiotic events will have shortened the presumed ancestral haplotype around the mutation differently. Little is known, however, about genetic variation among dogs of the same breed collected from different geographic regions.
Methodology/Principal Findings
In this report, we address the magnitude and impact of genetic diversity among common breeds sampled in the U.S. and Europe. The breeds selected, including the Rottweiler, Bernese mountain dog, flat-coated retriever, and golden retriever, share susceptibility to a class of soft tissue cancers typified by malignant histiocytosis in the Bernese mountain dog. We genotyped 722 SNPs at four unlinked loci (between 95 and 271 per locus) on canine chromosome 1 (CFA1). We showed that each population is characterized by distinct genetic diversity that can be correlated with breed history. When the breed studied has a reduced intra-breed diversity, the combination of dogs from international locations does not increase the rate of false positives and potentially increases the power of association studies. However, over-sampling cases from one geographic location is more likely to lead to false positive results in breeds with significant genetic diversity.
These data provide new guidelines for association studies using purebred dogs that take into account population structure.
PMCID: PMC2129117  PMID: 18091995
6.  An integrated 4249 marker FISH/RH map of the canine genome 
BMC Genomics  2004;5:65.
The 156 breeds of dog recognized by the American Kennel Club offer a unique opportunity to map genes important in genetic variation. Each breed features a defining constellation of morphological and behavioral traits, often generated by deliberate crossing of closely related individuals, leading to a high rate of genetic disease in many breeds. Understanding the genetic basis of both phenotypic variation and disease susceptibility in the dog provides new ways in which to dissect the genetics of human health and biology.
To facilitate both genetic mapping and cloning efforts, we have constructed an integrated canine genome map that is both dense and accurate. The resulting resource encompasses 4249 markers, and was constructed using the RHDF5000-2 whole genome radiation hybrid panel. The radiation hybrid (RH) map features a density of one marker every 900 Kb and contains 1760 bacterial artificial chromosome clones (BACs) localized to 1423 unique positions, 851 of which have also been mapped by fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH). The two data sets show excellent concordance. Excluding the Y chromosome, the map features an RH/FISH mapped BAC every 3.5 Mb and an RH mapped BAC-end, on average, every 2 Mb. For 2233 markers, the orthologous human genes have been established, allowing the identification of 79 conserved segments (CS) between the dog and human genomes, dramatically extending the length of most previously described CS.
These results provide a necessary resource for the canine genome mapping community to undertake positional cloning experiments and provide new insights into the comparative canine-human genome maps.
PMCID: PMC520820  PMID: 15363096
canine; dog; radiation hybrid; microsatellites; ESTs; BAC-ends
7.  Comparison of the canine and human olfactory receptor gene repertoires 
Genome Biology  2003;4(12):R80.
In this study, 817 novel canine olfactory receptor (OR) sequences were identified, and 640 have been characterized. Of the 661 characterized OR sequences, representing half of the canine repertoire, 18% are predicted to be pseudogenes, compared with 63% in human and 20% in mouse.
Olfactory receptors (ORs), the first dedicated molecules with which odorants physically interact to arouse an olfactory sensation, constitute the largest gene family in vertebrates, including around 900 genes in human and 1,500 in the mouse. Whereas dogs, like many other mammals, have a much keener olfactory potential than humans, only 21 canine OR genes have been described to date.
In this study, 817 novel canine OR sequences were identified, and 640 have been characterized. Of the 661 characterized OR sequences, representing half of the canine repertoire, 18% are predicted to be pseudogenes, compared with 63% in human and 20% in mouse. Phylogenetic analysis of 403 canine OR sequences identified 51 families, and radiation-hybrid mapping of 562 showed that they are distributed on 24 dog chromosomes, in 37 distinct regions. Most of these regions constitute clusters of 2 to 124 closely linked genes. The two largest clusters (124 and 109 OR genes) are located on canine chromosomes 18 and 21. They are orthologous to human clusters located on human chromosomes 11q11-q13 and HSA11p15, containing 174 and 115 ORs respectively.
This study shows a strongly conserved genomic distribution of OR genes between dog and human, suggesting that OR genes evolved from a common mammalian ancestral repertoire by successive duplications. In addition, the dog repertoire appears to have expanded relative to that of humans, leading to the emergence of specific canine OR genes.
PMCID: PMC329419  PMID: 14659017

Results 1-7 (7)