Wednesday, August 20, 2014
YOLO COUNTY NEWS
99 CENTS

Dog research sheds light on neural tube defects

By
From page A1 | July 23, 2013 |

A gene related to neural tube defects in dogs has for the first time been identified by UC Davis and University of Iowa researchers.

The researchers also found evidence that the gene may be an important risk factor for human neural tube defects, which affect more than 300,000 babies born each year around the world, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Neural tube defects, including anencephaly and spina bifida, are caused by the incomplete closure or development of the spine and skull.

The new findings appear in the new issue of the journal PLOS Genetics.

“The cause of neural tube defects is poorly understood but has long been thought to be associated with genetic, nutritional and environmental factors,” said Noa Safra, lead author on the study and a postdoctoral fellow in the laboratory of Professor Danika Bannasch in the UCD School of Veterinary Medicine.

Sofra noted that dogs provide an excellent biomedical model because they receive medical care comparable to what humans receive, share in a home environment and develop naturally occurring diseases that are similar to those found in humans. More specifically, several conditions associated with neural-tube defects are known to occur naturally in dogs.

All DNA samples used in the study were taken from household pets, rather than laboratory animals, Safra said.

She and colleagues carried out genome mapping in four Weimaraner dogs affected by spinal dysraphism, a naturally occurring spinal-cord disorder, and in 96 such dogs that had no neural tube defects.

Spinal dysraphism, previously reported in the Weimaraner breed, causes symptoms that include impaired motor coordination or partial paralysis in the legs, abnormal gait, a crouched stance and abnormal leg or paw reflexes.

Analysis of a specific region on canine chromosome eight led the researchers to a mutation in a gene called NKX2-8, one of a group of genes known as “homeobox genes,” known to be involved with regulatingpatterns of anatomical development in the embryo.

The researchers determined that the NKX2-8 mutation occurred in the Weimaraner breed with a frequency of 1.4 percent  — 14 mutations in every 1,000 dogs.

Additionally, they tested nearly 500 other dogs from six different breeds that had been reported to be clinically affected by neural tube defects, but did not find copies of the NKX2-8 gene mutation among the non-Weimaraner dogs.

“The data indicate that this mutation does not appear as a benign mutation in some breeds, while causing defects in other breeds,” Safra said. “Our results suggest that the NKX2-8 mutation is a ‘private’ mutation in Weimaraners that is not shared with other breeds.”

The researchers say that identification of such a breed-specific gene may help veterinarians diagnose spinal dysraphism in dogs and enable Weimaraner breeders to use DNA screening to select against the mutation when developing their breeding plans.

In an effort to investigate a potential role for the NKX2-8 mutation in cases of neural tube defects in people, the researchers also sequenced 149 unrelated samples from human patients with spina bifida. They found six cases in which the patients carried mutations of the NKX2-8 gene but stress that further studies are needed to confirm whether these mutations are responsible for the diagnosed neural tube defects.

Other researchers from UCD who collaborated on the study were: Danika Bannasch, Miriam Aguilar, Rochelle Coulson, Nicholas Thomas, Peta Hitchens, Peter Dickinson, Karen Verna and Zena Wolf.

— UC Davis News Service

Comments

comments

  • Recent Posts

  • Enter your email address to subscribe to this newspaper and receive notifications of new articles by email.

  • .

    News

    Summer jobs aren’t always in the bag

    By Spencer Ault | From Page: A1 | Gallery

     
    Davis Arts Center gets a new look, thanks to Brooks

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A1 | Gallery

    More details emerge in Woodland officer shootings

    By Lauren Keene | From Page: A1 | Gallery

     
    Report details the face of hunger in Yolo County

    By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: A1 | Gallery

     
    Bob Dunning: Taking on a Specktacular challenge

    By Bob Dunning | From Page: A2 | Gallery

    For the record

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A2

     
    Students can practice safe bike routes to junior highs

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A3

    ‘Monsters University’ to be screened in Central Park

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

     
    California regulators approve PG&E rate hike

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

    America’s ‘it’ school? Look west, Harvard

    By New York Times News Service | From Page: B3

     
    School board preps for new academic year

    By Jeff Hudson | From Page: A3

    The big moveout, on ‘Davisville’

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

     
    Sunder campaign will be at Farmers Market

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

    Classic car show slated in Woodland

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

     
    Public opinion sought about Nishi Gateway

    By Lily Holmes | From Page: A4

     
    Davis Art Garage honored; bench dedication set

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A8 | Gallery

    Woodland historical award winners announced

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A8

     
    .

    Forum

    Can’t understand this change

    By Creators Syndicate | From Page: B5

     
    Delta-friendly water bond is a win for all of California

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A6

    Bravo! The road diet works

    By Rich Rifkin | From Page: A6

     
    Support water bond in November

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

    Relay for Life team says thanks

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

     
    Tom Meyer cartoon

    By Debbie Davis | From Page: A6

    .

    Sports

    Hard hoops schedule features defending national champs at UCD

    By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1 | Gallery

     
    Crisp’s big hit helps A’s

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

    Aggie QB is back to pass … Touchdown, Tina! Tina?

    By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1 | Gallery

     
    Sacramento scores early to snap skid

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B8

     
    Unplayable? Cubs, rain hand Giants a loss

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

    UCD roundup: Aggie gymnasts are awesome at academics

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B8 | Gallery

     
    .

    Features

    Food that travels well for cooking out

    By Julie Cross | From Page: A5 | Gallery

     
    .

    Arts

     
    Visit Crawfish and Catfish Festival in Woodland

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A7

    Artists invited to paint at Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A7 | Gallery

     
    Goldberg, Milstein to play at Village Homes

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A7 | Gallery

    The voice on the CD comes alive at Music Together concert

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A7

     
    Crowd funding campaign offers support for Art Theater of Davis

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A7

     
    .

    Business

    .

    Obituaries

    Railroad museum will host Aberbach memorial

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

     
    .

    Comics

    Comics: Wednesday, August 20, 2014

    By Creator | From Page: B6