PLoS Genetics, 2019, Vol. 15(3)
Mast cell tumours are the most common type of skin cancer in dogs, representing a significant concern in canine health. The molecular pathogenesis is largely unknown, but breed-predisposition for mast cell tumour development suggests the involvement of inherited genetic risk factors in some breeds. In this study, we aimed to identify germline risk factors associated with the development of mast cell tumours in Labrador Retrievers, a breed with an elevated risk of mast cell tumour development. Using a methodological approach that combined a genome-wide association study, targeted next generation sequencing, and TaqMan genotyping, we identified a synonymous variant in the DSCAM gene on canine chromosome 31 that is associated with mast cell tumours in Labrador Retrievers. DSCAM encodes a cell-adhesion molecule. We showed that the variant has no effect on the DSCAM mRNA level but is associated with a significant reduction in the level of the DSCAM protein, suggesting that the variant affects the dynamics of DSCAM mRNA translation. Furthermore, we showed that the variant is also associated with mast cell tumours in Golden Retrievers, a breed that is closely related to Labrador Retrievers and that also has a predilection for mast cell tumour development. The variant is common in both Labradors and Golden Retrievers and consequently is likely to be a significant genetic contributor to the increased susceptibility of both breeds to develop mast cell tumours. The results presented here not only represent an important contribution to the understanding of mast cell tumour development in dogs, as they highlight the role of cell adhesion in mast cell tumour tumourigenesis, but they also emphasise the potential importance of the effects of synonymous variants in complex diseases such as cancer. Author summary The combination of various genetic and environmental risk factors makes the understanding of the molecular circuitry behind complex diseases, like cancer, a major challenge. The homogeneous nature of pedigree dog breed genomes makes these dogs ideal for the identification of both simple disease-causing genetic variants and genetic risk factors for complex diseases. Mast cell tumours are the most common type of canine skin cancer, and one of the most common cancers affecting dogs of most breeds. Several breeds, including Labrador Retrievers (which represent one of the most popular dog breeds), have an elevated risk of mast cell tumour development. Here, by using a methodological approach that combined different techniques, we identified a common inherited synonymous variant, that predisposes Labrador Retrievers to mast cell tumour development. Interestingly, we showed that this variant, despite its synonymous nature, appears to have an effect on translation dynamics as it is associated with reduced levels of DSCAM, a cell adhesion molecule. The results presented here reveal dysregulation of cell adhesion to be an important factor in mast cell tumour pathogenesis, and also highlight the important role that synonymous variants can play in complex diseases.
Natural Sciences ; Biological Sciences ; Immunology ; Naturvetenskap ; Biologiska Vetenskaper ; Immunologi
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