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A form of hereditary cerebellar ataxia has recently been described in the Norwegian Buhund dog breed. This study aimed to identify the genetic cause of the disease. Whole-genome sequencing of two Norwegian Buhund siblings diagnosed with progressive cerebellar ataxia was carried out, and sequences compared with 405 whole genome sequences of dogs of other breeds to filter benign common variants. Nine variants predicted to be deleterious segregated among the genomes in concordance with an autosomal recessive mode of inheritance, only one of which segregated within the breed when genotyped in additional Norwegian Buhunds. In total this variant was assessed in 802 whole genome sequences, and genotyped in an additional 505 unaffected dogs (including 146 Buhunds), and only four affected Norwegian Buhunds were homozygous for the variant. The variant identified, a T to C single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) (NC_006585.3:g.88890674T>C), is predicted to cause a tryptophan to arginine substitution in a highly conserved region of the potassium voltage-gated channel interacting protein KCNIP4. This gene has not been implicated previously in hereditary ataxia in any species. Evaluation of KCNIP4 protein expression through western blot and immunohistochemical analysis using cerebellum tissue of affected and control dogs demonstrated that the mutation causes a dramatic reduction of KCNIP4 protein expression. The expression of alternative KCNIP4 transcripts within the canine cerebellum, and regional differences in KCNIP4 protein expression, were characterised through RT-PCR and immunohistochemistry respectively. The voltage-gated potassium channel protein KCND3 has previously been implicated in spinocerebellar ataxia, and our findings suggest that the Kv4 channel complex KCNIP accessory subunits also have an essential role in voltage-gated potassium channel function in the cerebellum and should be investigated as potential candidate genes for cerebellar ataxia in future studies in other species.

Citation

Christopher A Jenkins, Lajos Kalmar, Kaspar Matiasek, Lorenzo Mari, Kaisa Kyöstilä, Hannes Lohi, Ellen C Schofield, Cathryn S Mellersh, Luisa De Risio, Sally L Ricketts. Characterisation of canine KCNIP4: A novel gene for cerebellar ataxia identified by whole-genome sequencing two affected Norwegian Buhund dogs. PLoS genetics. 2020 Jan;16(1):e1008527

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PMID: 31999692

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