Arranging cat genomes can help breed healthier kitties

Cats don’t have perfect genes – our feline friends can inherit devastating genetic diseases. Transcripts of key disease-causing genes were discovered with the emergence of cat genome sequence. And pedigree breeding can exacerbate the genetic problems facing cat breeds. Now the largest-ever genetic study of domestic cats is revealing the frequency with which known disease-causing versions of genes, or genetic variants, appear in the original breeds of cats and their non-breeding cousins.

More than 11,000 cats were screened for well-established disease-causing genetic variants, says lead study author Heidi Anderson, a senior scientist at Kinship, a company that specializes in genetic testing kits for pets.[لدقوو]; If you obscure the cat more thoroughly, you will kind of find out everything rdquo; And reduce cherry picking for predictable diseases, she says. This approach led the team to determine 13 genetic variants linked to disease In 47 breeds it had not been found before and three variants were unique to non-climbing cats. The researchers published their findings in the journal PLOS Genetics.

Anderson says the commercial test they used to sample cats is similar to tests available for humans. survey the owners of their pets; Mouth to collect a sample of DNA and then send it for analysis. Anderson and her team screened 10,419 purebred cats and 617 non-breed cats for 87 different genes. Not all variables were associated with disease; Some are affected by appearance or blood type.

Anderson says blood type determination is important for cats who need surgery and may need a blood transfusion. It is also useful for breeders who wish to prevent ischemic hemolysis in newborns, a condition that often appears in domesticated cats and horses and occurs when a mother has a different blood type than her young. Anderson explains that in cats, the antibodies can pass to her kitten through her milk and attack her red blood cells. If the condition is not recognized within the first few hours of birth, it can be fatal. Testing of compatible blood types before reproducing can circumvent the risk of neonatal hemolysis completely.

Screening for disease-causing genetic variants can help prevent their inheritance. Of the 90 different breeds represented by the participating original cats, the Maine Coon had the highest number of disease-associated genetic variants. One of the nine variants discovered was associated with polycystic kidney disease, which is not expected in Maine. Cats suffering from this disease form fluid-filled cysts on their kidneys that affect the organs; normal function. Surprisingly, Anderson says, none of the Persian cats in the study — a breed known to suffer from polycystic kidney disease — tested positive for the disease-causing variant. She says Persian cat breeders know their animals are at risk of contracting this devastating disease and often choose to have them checked before mating.

[لدقوو]; This is such a good example of seeing the [variant] The frequency of some of these devastating diseases is declining in breeds where it has traditionally been very high,[ردقوو]; Says Christopher Kaelin, chief scientist and cat geneticist at the HudsonAlpha Institute of Biotechnology, who was not associated with the research. (ldquo); It shows me that breeders really care about raising healthy cats and that they see steps being taken to do so. Awareness of the prevalence of this disease in Persian cats helped breeders make better decisions when breeding individual cats, which likely led to the decrease in the frequency of the disease gene.

These types of large-scale studies shed light on the frequency of different genetic diseases in all breeds, not just in those previously known to display disease. In fact, 13 disease-associated variants were found in the non-climbing cats that participated in the study, indicating that this technique is not only beneficial to breeders.

“I think the real strength of this research is the ability of these commercial sequencing platforms to collect large amounts of data,” Kaelin says. The genetic variants tested in the study were based on academic research that examined dozens or possibly hundreds of cats. It would be difficult for a single research lab to process thousands of samples a year, Kaelen says. Kaelen explains that common genetic diseases, such as diabetes, are more genetically complex than those examined by Anderson and colleagues and more difficult to understand. If researchers supplement this larger platform with comprehensive veterinary information, it could serve as a framework for learning about genetic risks for those most common diseases — which need large sample sizes to explore genetic causes and effects.[لدقوو]; From this perspective, I think this is a really interesting paper,[ردقوو]; He says.

The study had some immediate effects for cat participants, too. Whenever a disease-related variant was discovered in a sample, Anderson says, her team contacted the cat’s owner to talk about what that meant for their pet. ldquo; Therersquo; s one [nonpedigreed] The cat who had very strange symptoms and had visited several vets,[ردقوو]; she says.[لدقوو]; We can confirm that he was suffering from myotonia congenitardquo ; – A musculoskeletal condition which symptoms can be treated, although there is no known cure. Anderson hopes that this type of genetic testing will help other cats in the future, providing an accessible tool for veterinarians who treat our feline companions.