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PloS one

Canine disorder mirrors human disease: exonic deletion in HES7 causes autosomal recessive spondylocostal dysostosis in miniature Schnauzer dogs.


PMID 25659135

Abstract

Spondylocostal dysostosis is a congenital disorder of the axial skeleton documented in human families from diverse racial backgrounds. The condition is characterised by truncal shortening, extensive hemivertebrae and rib anomalies including malalignment, fusion and reduction in number. Mutations in the Notch signalling pathway genes DLL3, MESP2, LFNG, HES7 and TBX6 have been associated with this defect. In this study, spondylocostal dysostosis in an outbred family of miniature schnauzer dogs is described. Computed tomography demonstrated that the condition mirrors the skeletal defects observed in human cases, but unlike most human cases, the affected dogs were stillborn or died shortly after birth. Through gene mapping and whole genome sequencing, we identified a single-base deletion in the coding region of HES7. The frameshift mutation causes loss of functional domains essential for the oscillatory transcriptional autorepression of HES7 during somitogenesis. A restriction fragment length polymorphism test was applied within the immediate family and supported a highly penetrant autosomal recessive mode of inheritance. The mutation was not observed in wider testing of 117 randomly sampled adult miniature schnauzer and six adult standard schnauzer dogs; providing a significance of association of Praw = 4.759e-36 (genome-wide significant). Despite this apparently low frequency in the Australian population, the allele may be globally distributed based on its presence in two unrelated sires from geographically distant locations. While isolated hemivertebrae have been observed in a small number of other dog breeds, this is the first clinical and genetic diagnosis of spontaneously occurring spondylocostal dysostosis in a non-human mammal and offers an excellent model in which to study this devastating human disorder. The genetic test can be utilized by dog breeders to select away from the disease and avoid unnecessary neonatal losses.