September 25, 2008 at 6:42 pm #62186AnonymousGuest
Gene discovery will help dog breeders
Janet French, The StarPhoenix
Published: Wednesday, September 24, 2008
A new finding by researchers at the University of Saskatchewan and the
University of Minnesota will give breeders a leg up in preventing a
neurological problem in Labrador retrievers.
Researchers at the veterinary colleges of both universities, along with the
University of California, San Diego, say they have discovered the gene
responsible for exercise-induced collapse (EIC) syndrome, which causes dogs’
legs to collapse during intense exercise and excitement.
“This (discovery) is a big thing in the Labrador retriever world,” says
veterinarian Dr. Robert Gillette, director of the Veterinary Sports Medicine
program at Auburn University in Alabama. Gillette, who investigates illness
and injury prevention in high-performance dogs and horses, was not involved
in the study.
“It would be great to be able to identify this thing (EIC) early,” he
“It’s a heart-breaker disease because it won’t show up until you’ve had the
dog for a period of time, then you’ve fallen in love with the dog and it’s
According to the paper, published Sunday online in the journal Nature
Genetics, a mutation in a dog gene called dynamin 1 is strongly associated
with the condition. The dynamin 1 protein (which is made based on
instructions in the gene) is present in dogs’ brains and spinal cords. It
forms vessels around chemical signals in nerves so those signals can be
sent out of one nerve cell and into the next.
University of Saskatchewan vet college Prof. Dr. Susan Taylor did detailed
physical exams of dogs for the study and was one of the paper’s co- authors.
Dogs were flown in from all over North America for Taylor to assess so she
could root out which dogs have EIC and which have other conditions that
could cause collapse. Her Minnesota colleagues screened the DNA of more than
300 dogs with and without EIC, and were able to narrow the search down to
one errant gene on canine chromosome 9.
Taylor says a mutation in the dynamin 1 protein makes sense, because it only
tends to become active during times of high excitement or exertion and
possibly in hot temperatures.
Although dogs whose legs have collapsed will keep wobbling along and are not
in pain during an episode, occasionally older dogs can die.
“We honestly don’t know exactly why they die,” Taylor said, adding it could
be a seizure or the dog could stop breathing.
EIC can also be career-ending for dogs who compete in hunting trials.
A benefit of identifying the mutation is that breeders can now get a vet to
send a blood sample to the University of Minnesota for a genetic test,
Taylor said. Because the syndrome is a recessive trait, breeders could cross
Labrador who has the mutation with one who doesn’t and get puppies free from
An estimated 30 to 40 per cent of Labradors carry the genetic mutation.
“It’s worth getting it out of the breed,” said Taylor, who believes
eventually, with informed breeding, EIC could be eliminated from the gene
The genetic test will also make it much easier — and cheaper — to
diagnose the syndrome, Taylor said.
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79-4716-a3b9-cafab7a9ce68&k=84539&p=2September 25, 2008 at 9:49 pm #83529*Nick*Member
Val, I agree it is very interesting research and could be very significant. However, and you probably already know what I’m going to say, we’re talking about labrador retrivers here. The hands down most popular breed in the world (I believe). Literally hundreds of thousands are born on this continent alone every year. Maybe 1/10th of the breeding stock have any health tests at all.
I could see this having a real practical application if we were talking about my breed or yours , I hate to say it, but the labrador retriever, as a whole, is doomed. Dedicated breeders who perform health tests ,and include this one, can and hopefully will save the breed but will it be able to maintain the numbers it now has? no way.
What do you think?
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