Sequencing the cat genome can help bring out healthier kittens

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Cats don’t have perfect genes – our furry feline friends can inherit devastating genetic diseases. Key pathogenic versions of genes have been discovered with growth cat genome sequencing. And breeding can exacerbate the genetic problems faced by cat breeds. Now the largest genetic study of domestic cats shows how often known pathogenic versions of genes, or gene variants, appear in purebred breeds of cats and their outbred relatives.

More than 11,000 cats have been screened for well-known variants of disease-causing genes, says lead author Heidi Anderson, a senior scientist at Kinship, a company that specializes in kits for genetic testing of pets. ldquo; If you examine the cat more fully, you will learn everything; and minimize cherry picking for expected diseases, she says. This approach prompted the team to identify 13 variants of disease-related genes in 47 breeds in which they had not previously been found, and three variants that were unique to outbred cats. The researchers published their findings in PLOS Genetics.

The commercial test they used to sample the cats is similar to the tests available to humans, Anderson says. The hosts missed them petsrsquo; mouth to collect a DNA sample and then send it for analysis. Anderson and her team tested 10,419 purebred cats and 617 non-purebreds on 87 different gene variants. Not all options were disease-related; some affected by appearance or blood type.

Determining blood type is important for cats who need surgery and may need a blood transfusion, Anderson says. It is also useful for breeders who want to prevent neonatal isoerythrolysis, a disease that occurs mainly in domestic cats and horses, which occurs when a mother has a different blood type than her children. In cats, the mother’s antibodies can travel to her kitten through her milk and attack his red blood cells, Anderson explains. If the disease is not detected within the first few hours after birth, it can be fatal. Testing for compatible blood groups before dilution may completely circumvent the risk of neonatal isoerythrolysis.

Screening for variants of pathogenic genes can help prevent their inheritance. Of the 90 different breeds represented by the participating cat breeds, Maine Coons had the largest number of disease-related gene variants. One of the nine identified variants was associated with polycystic kidney disease, which is unexpected for Maine Coons. In cats suffering from this disease, the kidneys form fluid-filled cysts that affect the organs; natural function. Surprisingly, none of the Persian cats studied – a breed that is known to suffer from polycystic kidney disease – has not tested positive for the disease-causing variant, Anderson says. Breeders of Persian cats know that their animals are at risk for this devastating disease, and often choose them before breeding, she says.

ldquo; This is such a good example of viewing [variant] the incidence of some of these destructive diseases is declining in breeds where they have traditionally been very high, rdquo; says Christopher Kelin, a senior cat scientist and geneticist at the HudsonAlpha Institute of Biotechnology who was not involved in the study. ldquo; It shows me that breeders are really interested in breeding healthier cats and that they are again taking steps to do so.rdquo; Awareness of the prevalence of the disease in Persian cats has helped breeders make better decisions when breeding individual cats, which has probably led to a reduction in the frequency of disease genes.

This kind of large-scale research sheds light on the incidence of various genetic diseases in all breeds, not just those previously known to be the disease. In fact, in the purebred cats that participated in the study, 13 variants related to the disease were found, suggesting that this technology is beneficial not only to breeders.

ldquo; I think the real strength of this research lies in the ability of these commercial sequence platforms to really accumulate large amounts of data, rdquo; Says Calin. The genetic variants tested in the study were based on research that has studied dozens and perhaps hundreds of cats. A separate research lab would find it difficult to process thousands of samples a year, Kelin says. But common inherited diseases, such as diabetes, are more genetically complex than those tested by Anderson and her colleagues, and they are much harder to understand, Kelin explains. If researchers supplemented this large platform with extensive veterinary information, it could serve as a basis for elucidating the genetic risk of these more common diseases, which require large samples to identify genetic causes and consequences. ldquo; From this point of view, I think it’s a really exciting paper, rdquo; he says.

The study also had some immediate implications for cat participants. Anderson says that whenever the sample found a disease-related option, her team contacted the catrsquo owner to talk about what it meant for their pet. ldquo; Therersquo; s one [nonpedigreed] a cat that had very strange symptoms and was visited by several veterinarians, rdquo; She says. “We could confirm that he suffered from congenital myatonia” – a disease of the musculoskeletal system, the symptoms of which can be treated, although there is no known treatment. Anderson hopes this type of genetic testing can help other cats in the future by providing an affordable tool for veterinarians who treat our feline companions.

Sequencing the cat genome can help bring out healthier kittens

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