A Missense Variant in the Bardet-Biedl Syndrome 2 Gene (BBS2) Leads to a Novel Syndromic Retinal Degeneration in the Shetland Sheepdog.
Canine progressive retinal atrophy (PRA) describes a group of hereditary diseases characterized by photoreceptor cell death in the retina, leading to visual impairment. Despite the identification of multiple PRA-causing variants, extensive heterogeneity of PRA is observed across and within dog breeds, with many still genetically unsolved. This study sought to elucidate the causal variant for a distinct form of PRA in the Shetland sheepdog, using a whole-genome sequencing approach. Filtering variants from a single PRA-affected Shetland sheepdog genome compared to 176 genomes of other breeds identified a single nucleotide variant in exon 11 of the Bardet-Biedl syndrome-2 gene (BBS2) (c.1222G>C; p.Ala408Pro). Genotyping 1386 canids of 155 dog breeds, 15 cross breeds and 8 wolves indicated the c.1222G>C variant was only segregated within Shetland sheepdogs. Out of 505 Shetland sheepdogs, seven were homozygous for the variant. Clinical history and photographs for three homozygotes indicated the presence of a novel phenotype. In addition to PRA, additional clinical features in homozygous dogs support the discovery of a novel syndromic PRA in the breed. The development and utilization of a diagnostic DNA test aim to prevent the mutation from becoming more prevalent in the breed.