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News Article

Largest DNA-based study of domestic cats to date identifies disease-causing variants across breeds

DNA testing has been effectively used to reduce disease associated variants within certain pedigreed cat populations over time

Thirteen genetic variants associated with disease in cats are present in more pedigreed breeds than previously thought, according to a study led by Heidi Anderson from Wisdom Panel in the United States and colleagues from the University of Helsinki in Finland. However, these variants are declining in frequency in breeds that are regularly screened for the genetic markers. The results are published in PLoS Genetics.

The researchers genotyped over 11,000 domestic cats, including 90 pedigreed breeds and breed types, and 617 non-pedigreed cats, for 87 genetic variants associated with disease, blood type or physical appearance. They found that there was more genetic diversity in the non-pedigreed cat population than in the pedigreed cat population, and three disease-associated variants were found solely in non-pedigreed cats. They also identified 13 disease-associated variants in 47 breeds for which the disease had not previously been documented.

However, the results suggest that the frequency of some markers has declined since they were first identified. For example, PKD1, a variant associated with polycystic kidney disease and previously reported to affect 40% of Persian cats, was identified in none of the 118 Persians in this study but was present in Maine Coons and Scottish Straights. Markers for certain coat colours and patterns, such as Colourpoints in Siamese cats, were also responsible for the same trait in other breeds, and the rarest colour variant was the Amber coat colour found in Norwegian Forest Cats, which was also detected in one non-pedigreed cat.

The authors say, “Genetic testing can be used to inform breeding decisions aiming to prevent genetic disease, while a concurrent goal should be to maintain genetic diversity in a breed’s population, helping to sustain the breed.”

Article: Anderson, H., Davison, S., Lytle, K. M., Honkanen, L., Freyer, J., Mathlin, J., Kyöstilä, K., Inman, L., Louviere, A., Chodroff Foran, R., Forman, O. P., Lohi, H., Donner, J. (2022). Genetic epidemiology of blood type, disease and trait variants, and genome-wide genetic diversity in over 11,000 domestic cats. PLoS Genetics, 18(6), e1009804., doi: 10.1371/journal.pgen.1009804

Article details

  • Date
  • 23 June 2022
  • Source
  • PLOS
  • Subject(s)
  • Dogs, Cats, and other Companion Animals