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SERPINB11 Frameshift Variant Associated with Novel Hoof Specific Phenotype in Connemara Ponies


Horses belong to the order Perissodactyla and bear the majority of their weight on their third toe; therefore, tremendous force is applied to each hoof. An inherited disease characterized by a phenotype restricted to the dorsal hoof wall was identified in the Connemara pony. Hoof wall separation disease (HWSD) manifests clinically as separation of the dorsal hoof wall along the weight-bearing surface of the hoof during the first year of life. Parents of affected ponies appeared clinically normal, suggesting an autosomal recessive mode of inheritance. A case-control allelic genome wide association analysis was performed (ncases = 15, ncontrols = 24). Population stratification (λ = 1.48) was successfully improved by removing outliers (ncontrols = 7) identified on a multidimensional scaling plot. A genome-wide significant association was detected on chromosome 8 (praw = 1.37x10-10, pgenome = 1.92x10-5). A homozygous region identified in affected ponies spanned from 79,936,024-81,676,900 bp and contained a family of 13 annotated SERPINB genes. Whole genome next-generation sequencing at 6x coverage of two cases and two controls revealed 9,758 SNVs and 1,230 indels within the ~1.7-Mb haplotype, of which 17 and 5, respectively, segregated with the disease and were located within or adjacent to genes. Additional genotyping of these 22 putative functional variants in 369 Connemara ponies (ncases = 23, ncontrols = 346) and 169 horses of other breeds revealed segregation of three putative variants adjacent or within four SERPIN genes. Two of the variants were non-coding and one was an insertion within SERPINB11 that introduced a frameshift resulting in a premature stop codon. Evaluation of mRNA levels at the proximal hoof capsule (ncases = 4, ncontrols = 4) revealed that SERPINB11 expression was significantly reduced in affected ponies (p<0.001). Carrier frequency was estimated at 14.8%. This study describes the first genetic variant associated with a hoof wall specific phenotype and suggests a role of SERPINB11 in maintaining hoof wall structure.

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