Wednesday, April 1, 2015
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

     
     
    AquaMonsters open summer registration

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A3

     
    Woodland Library’s community room reopens

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

    Museum celebrates Easter with candy-filled eggs

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

     
    Easter egg hunt set Sunday at Atria

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

    Tamblyn presents a comedy concert

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A6 | Gallery

     
    Cancer fighters will gather Saturday for Relay For Life kickoff

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A6

    Poet laureate emerita celebrates at book-release party

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A6

     
    UCD gets grant to look at open access to published research

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A6

    Odd Fellows will host a big birthday bash

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A6

     
    AARP’s free tax-prep services continue

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A7

    Round up at the registers for Davis schools

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A7

     
    ‘Sip and Shop’ kicks off Child Abuse Prevention Month

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A7

    Pain management lecture slated April 8

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A8

     
    Seniors invited to join new social group

    By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: A8

    Pence Gallery: See artists at work during Garden Tour

    By Natalie Nelson | From Page: A10 | Gallery

     
    .

    Forum

    Tom Meyer cartoon

    By Debbie Davis | From Page: B4

     
    Is Davis on the cusp of an evolutionary change?

    By Rich Rifkin | From Page: B4

    Groom’s parents overwhelmed

    By Creators Syndicate | From Page: B5

     
    .

    Sports

    Aggies get ready for Hawaii by rolling over St. Mary’s

    By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1 | Gallery

     
    UC Davis represents well at Final Four in Indiana

    By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1 | Gallery

     
    Descalso looks back at Aggie days, ahead to new Rockies gig

    By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1 | Gallery

    Blue Devils drop softball game at CBS

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1

     
    JV/frosh roundup: DHS younger girls soccer squad stomps Grant

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B2 | Gallery

    UCD roundup: Nunez powers Aggies to softball win

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B3 | Gallery

     
    Gibson’s heroics ensure a DHS split at Boras Classic

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B10

    .

    Features

    Spring is a busy time for honey and hives

    By Dan Kennedy | From Page: A8 | Gallery

     
    .

    Arts

     
    Fiery bluesman brings guitar pyrotechnics to The Palms

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A9 | Gallery

     
    Bluesman and guitarist Buddy Guy comes to Davis

    By Jeff Hudson | From Page: A9 | Gallery

     
    .

    Business

    .

    Obituaries

    .

    Comics