Posted March 07, 2019 04:16:27In many ways, the ferret population is similar to the dog population.
Dogs have a genetic predisposition to a variety of conditions, but the ferrets have been shown to have a higher incidence of certain disorders and other genetic mutations that cause these diseases.
Researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison have discovered a gene that has a greater tendency to predispose ferrets to Down Syndrome than other dogs.
The study published in the journal Cell Reports revealed the gene is located in the region of chromosome 17 called the APOE1 gene.
The gene has been linked to a range of diseases, including Down Syndrome, and was previously linked to genetic disorders in humans.
“Our data suggests that this gene plays a role in predisposing ferrets for Down Syndrome,” said Dr. David Ewing, lead author of the study.
The APOE gene, which is not normally expressed in humans, was previously shown to be associated with Down Syndrome in humans but not ferrets.
“We’re now learning that the APOA gene has a similar effect, and that the genetic variation between ferrets is similar as well,” said Ewing.
Ewing and his colleagues found that when the APO1 gene was mutated in ferrets, the genes activity was reduced and the ferrettes were more susceptible to the conditions that were associated with the disease.
Ewings research also revealed that mutations in the APE1 gene are also associated with other genetic diseases in humans including Down syndrome, Crohn’s disease and multiple sclerosis.
“In our study, we found that the gene for Down syndrome was significantly more common in ferret than in dog,” said Professor James Hoeppner, a UW professor of animal behavior and genetics and the lead author on the study, “We’re looking for other genes that might be involved in Down syndrome ferrets and we’re interested in learning whether they’re also involved in other conditions.”
Researchers are now looking at how the APoe1 gene interacts with the other genes in the genome, including a gene known as FTO, Fuzzy-Tongued T-Rex and Fuzziness-Toothed T-rex.
This research could lead to new genetic therapies that target these genes in ferries.