Gene may explain why Labradors collapse after hunting

September 22nd, 2008 - 4:47 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, Sep 22 (IANS) Researchers have identified a gene which is linked with Labradors collapsing soon after an intense hunting or retrieving exercise, in a condition known as exercise-induced collapse or EIC. In most cases, their legs get wobbly and hind limbs give out, and in rare cases they may die. Labradors are the commonest dog breed in the world. An estimated three to five percent have EIC.

The research team identified a mutant form of the dynamin 1 gene as highly associated with EIC. The dynamin 1 protein normally functions to maintain proper chemical communication between adjacent nerves, also known as synaptic transmission.

However, the mutated form of the dynamin protein appears to have diminished function, interrupting synaptic transmission during intense exercise, and causing the muscle-controlling nerves to not fire when directed to do so.

“This is very exciting because it is the first naturally occurring mutation of this gene identified in any mammal,” said James Mickelson, professor of veterinary sciences at the University of Minnesota and co-principal investigator on the study, reports Eurekalert.

“Its discovery could offer insight into normal as well as abnormal neurobiology in both animals and humans,” he said.

Researchers also determined that up to 30 percent of Labrador retrievers are carriers of the mutation, and they developed a genetic test to indicate whether dogs have the normal or mutated forms of the gene.

The study has been published in the journal Nature Genetics.

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