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Congenital bovine spinal dysmyelination is caused by a missense mutation in the SPAST gene

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  • Bo Thomsen
  • Peter H. Nissen, Denmark
  • Jørgen S Agerholm, Denmark
  • Christian Bendixen, Denmark
  • Molekylær Genetik og Systembiologi
  • Department of Genetics and Biotechnology
 Bovine spinal dysmyelination (BSD) is a recessive congenital neurodegenerative disease in cattle (Bos taurus) characterized by pathological changes of the myelin sheaths in the spinal cord. The occurrence of BSD is a longstanding problem in the American Brown Swiss (ABS) breed and in several European cattle breeds upgraded with ABS. Here, we show that the disease locus on bovine chromosome 11 harbors the SPAST gene that, when mutated, is responsible for the human disorder hereditary spastic paraplegia (HSP). Initially, SPAST encoding Spastin was considered a less likely candidate gene for BSD since the modes of inheritance as well as the time of onset and severity of symptoms differ widely between HSP and BSD. However, sequence analysis of the bovine SPAST gene in affected animals identified a R560Q substitution at a position in the ATPase domain of the Spastin protein that is invariant from insects to mammals. Interestingly, three different mutations in human SPAST gene at the equivalent position are known to cause HSP. To explore this observation further, we genotyped more than 3,100 animals of various cattle breeds and found that the glutamine allele exclusively occurred in breeds upgraded with ABS. Furthermore, all confirmed BSD carriers were heterozygous, while all affected calves were homozygous for the glutamine allele consistent with recessive transmission of the underlying mutation and complete penetrance in the homozygous state. Subsequent analysis of recombinant Spastin in vitro showed that the R560Q substitution severely impaired the ATPase activity, demonstrating a causal relationship between the SPAST mutation and BSD
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)175-183
Number of pages9
Publication statusPublished - 2010

    Research areas

  • Inbreeding, Hereditary disease, Animal model, Spastin, Dysmyelination

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