Genetic risk factor for laryngeal paralysis in miniature bull terriers identified

October 24, 2019

Laryngeal paralysis is a serious and sometimes deadly disease in some dog breeds that prevents proper opening of the larynx for breathing. In a new study published 24th October in PLOS Genetics, a team of German specialists in canine head and neck surgery and geneticists from the University of Bern identify a mutation responsible for laryngeal paralysis in Miniature Bull Terriers, enabling the development of a genetic test for the disease.

Laryngeal paralysis most commonly affects middle-aged or geriatric dogs belonging to large and giant dog breeds, but recently breeders observed a rise in laryngeal paralysis striking in young Miniature Bull Terriers. To identify a genetic cause, researchers performed a genome-wide association study and analyzed genome sequences of several hundred dogs to find mutations that occur in Miniature Bull Terriers with the disease. In the genome of affected dogs, they discovered an extra piece of DNA inserted into the RAPGEF6 gene that results in production of an incomplete, nonfunctional RAPGEF6 protein. Miniature Bull Terriers that carried only mutant versions of the gene had a 10- to 17-fold increased risk of laryngeal paralysis.

The researchers did not detect a perfect correlation between the mutation and the laryngeal paralysis, which suggests that other genetic and environmental factors also may contribute to the development of the disease. Additionally, this mutation only occurred in Miniature and standard Bull Terriers, and thus cannot explain laryngeal paralysis in other dog breeds. However, the study identifies an important role for RAPGEF6 in laryngeal nerve function.

The authors emphasize the important contribution of concerned dog owners in initiating this research: "We are very excited about this breakthrough in research that has been made possible by a fantastic effort of many highly motivated dog breeders and owners who alerted us to the problem and donated samples from their dogs," commented senior author Tosso Leeb. "Targeted breeding should drastically reduce the frequency of this devastating disease in the future."

With this information, a genetic test for the mutation can now be developed to prevent the breeding of Miniature Bull Terriers and Bull Terriers that are at risk for the disease.
Peer-reviewed / Observational study / Animals

In your coverage please use this URL to provide access to the freely available article in PLOS Genetics:

Citation: Hadji Rasouliha S, Barrientos L, Anderegg L, Klesty C, Lorenz J, Chevallier L, et al. (2019) A RAPGEF6 variant constitutes a major risk factor for laryngeal paralysis in dogs. PLoS Genet 15(10): e1008416.

Funding: L.B. was funded in part by fellowships from the National Scientific and Technical Research Council of Argentina (CONICET) and the Hans Sigrist Foundation. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.

Competing Interests: JS, the editor for this paper, and TL have previously been co-authors.


Related Genome Articles from Brightsurf:

Genome evolution goes digital
Dr. Alan Herbert from InsideOutBio describes ground-breaking research in a paper published online by Royal Society Open Science.

Breakthrough in genome visualization
Kadir Dede and Dr. Enno Ohlebusch at Ulm University in Germany have devised a method for constructing pan-genome subgraphs at different granularities without having to wait hours and days on end for the software to process the entire genome.

Sturgeon genome sequenced
Sturgeons lived on earth already 300 million years ago and yet their external appearance seems to have undergone very little change.

A sea monster's genome
The giant squid is an elusive giant, but its secrets are about to be revealed.

Deciphering the walnut genome
New research could provide a major boost to the state's growing $1.6 billion walnut industry by making it easier to breed walnut trees better equipped to combat the soil-borne pathogens that now plague many of California's 4,800 growers.

Illuminating the genome
Development of a new molecular visualisation method, RNA-guided endonuclease -- in situ labelling (RGEN-ISL) for the CRISPR/Cas9-mediated labelling of genomic sequences in nuclei and chromosomes.

A genome under influence
References form the basis of our comprehension of the world: they enable us to measure the height of our children or the efficiency of a drug.

How a virus destabilizes the genome
New insights into how Kaposi's sarcoma-associated herpesvirus (KSHV) induces genome instability and promotes cell proliferation could lead to the development of novel antiviral therapies for KSHV-associated cancers, according to a study published Sept.

Better genome editing
Reich Group researchers develop a more efficient and precise method of in-cell genome editing.

Unlocking the genome
A team led by Prof. Stein Aerts (VIB-KU Leuven) uncovers how access to relevant DNA regions is orchestrated in epithelial cells.

Read More: Genome News and Genome Current Events is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to