Genome-wide association studies for multiple diseases of the German Shepherd Dog

The German Shepherd Dog (GSD) is a popular working and companion breed for which over 50 hereditary diseases have been documented. Herein, SNP profiles for 197 GSDs were generated using the Affymetrix v2 canine SNP array for a genome-wide association study to identify loci associated with four diseases: pituitary dwarfism, degenerative myelopathy (DM), congenital megaesophagus (ME), and pancreatic acinar atrophy (PAA). A locus on Chr 9 is strongly associated with pituitary dwarfism and is proximal to a plausible candidate gene, LHX3. Results for DM confirm a major locus encompassing SOD1, in which an associated point mutation was previously identified, but do not suggest modifier loci. Several SNPs on Chr 12 are associated with ME and a 4.7 Mb haplotype block is present in affected dogs. Analysis of additional ME cases for a SNP within the haplotype provides further support for this association. Results for PAA indicate more complex genetic underpinnings. Several regions on multiple chromosomes reach genome-wide significance. However, no major locus is apparent and only two associated haplotype blocks, on Chrs 7 and 12 are observed. These data suggest that PAA may be governed by multiple loci with small effects, or it may be a heterogeneous disorder.