Friday, 12 May 2017

Rare feline genetic disorders identified through whole genome sequencing

Findings could help feline preservationists implement breeding strategies for rare species 

Date: May 11, 2017
Source: University of Missouri-Columbia

Whole genome sequencing (WGS), which is the process of determining an organism's complete DNA sequence, can be used to identify DNA anomalies that cause disease. Identifying disease-causing DNA abnormalities allows clinicians to better predict an effective course of treatment for the patient. Now, in a series of recent studies, scientists at the University of Missouri are using whole genome sequencing through the 99 Lives Cat Genome Sequencing Consortium to identify genetic variants that cause rare diseases, such as progressive retinal atrophy and Niemann-Pick type 1, a fatal disorder in domestic cats. Findings from the study could help feline preservationists implement breeding strategies in captivity for rare and endangered species such as the African black-footed cat.

The 99 Lives project was established at Mizzou by Leslie Lyons, the Gilbreath-McLorn Endowed Professor of Comparative Medicine in the College of Veterinary Medicine, to improve health care for cats through research. The database has genetically sequenced more than 50 felines and includes DNA from cats with and without known genetic health problems. The goal of the database is to identify DNA that causes genetic disorders and have a better understanding of how to treat diseases.

In the first study, Lyons and her team used the 99 Lives consortium to identify a genetic mutation that causes blindness in the African black-footed cat, an endangered species often found in U.S. zoos. The team sequenced three cats ? two unaffected parents and an affected offspring ? to determine if the mutation was inherited or spontaneous. The genetic mutation identified was located the IQCB1 gene and is associated with progressive retinal atrophy, an inherited degenerative retinal disorder that leads to blindness. The affected cat had two copies of the genetic mutation, indicating that it was an inherited disorder.



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