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Genetic epidemiology of blood type, disease and trait variants, and genome-wide genetic diversity in over 11,000 domestic cats


Anderson, Heidi et al. (2022), Genetic epidemiology of blood type, disease and trait variants, and genome-wide genetic diversity in over 11,000 domestic cats, Dryad, Dataset,


In the largest DNA-based study of domestic cat to date, 11,036 individuals (10,419 pedigreed cats from 91 breeds and breed types and 617 non-pedigreed cats) were genotyped via commercial panel testing, elucidating the distribution and frequency of known genetic variants associated with blood type, disease and physical traits across cat breeds. Blood group determining variants, which are relevant clinically and in cat breeding, were genotyped to assess the across breed distribution of blood types A, B and AB. Extensive panel testing identified 13 disease-associated variants in 48 breeds or breed types for which the variant had not previously been observed, strengthening the argument for panel testing across populations. The study also indicates that multiple breed clubs have effectively used DNA testing to reduce disease-associated genetic variants within certain pedigreed cat populations. Appearance-associated genetic variation in all cats is also discussed. Additionally, we combined genotypic data with phenotype information and clinical documentation, actively conducted owner and veterinarian interviews, and recruited cats for clinical examination to investigate the causality of a number of tested variants across different breed backgrounds. Lastly, genome-wide informative SNP heterozygosity levels were calculated to obtain a comparable measure of the genetic diversity in different cat breeds.

This study represents the first comprehensive exploration of informative Mendelian variants in felines by screening over 10,000 domestic cats. The results qualitatively contribute to the understanding of feline variant heritage and genetic diversity and demonstrate the clinical utility and importance of such information in supporting breeding programs and the research community. The work also highlights the crucial commitment of pedigreed cat breeders and registries in supporting the establishment of large genomic databases that when combined with phenotype information can advance scientific understanding and provide insights that can be applied to improve the health and welfare of cats.