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Open Access Research article

Single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in coding regions of canine dopamine- and serotonin-related genes

Jørn Våge* and Frode Lingaas

Author Affiliations

Division of Genetics, Department of Basic Sciences and Aquatic Medicine, Norwegian School of Veterinary Science, Oslo, Norway

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BMC Genetics 2008, 9:10  doi:10.1186/1471-2156-9-10

Published: 28 January 2008

Abstract

Background

Polymorphism in genes of regulating enzymes, transporters and receptors of the neurotransmitters of the central nervous system have been associated with altered behaviour, and single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) represent the most frequent type of genetic variation. The serotonin and dopamine signalling systems have a central influence on different behavioural phenotypes, both of invertebrates and vertebrates, and this study was undertaken in order to explore genetic variation that may be associated with variation in behaviour.

Results

Single nucleotide polymorphisms in canine genes related to behaviour were identified by individually sequencing eight dogs (Canis familiaris) of different breeds. Eighteen genes from the dopamine and the serotonin systems were screened, revealing 34 SNPs distributed in 14 of the 18 selected genes. A total of 24,895 bp coding sequence was sequenced yielding an average frequency of one SNP per 732 bp (1/732). A total of 11 non-synonymous SNPs (nsSNPs), which may be involved in alteration of protein function, were detected. Of these 11 nsSNPs, six resulted in a substitution of amino acid residue with concomitant change in structural parameters.

Conclusion

We have identified a number of coding SNPs in behaviour-related genes, several of which change the amino acids of the proteins. Some of the canine SNPs exist in codons that are evolutionary conserved between five compared species, and predictions indicate that they may have a functional effect on the protein. The reported coding SNP frequency of the studied genes falls within the range of SNP frequencies reported earlier in the dog and other mammalian species. Novel SNPs are presented and the results show a significant genetic variation in expressed sequences in this group of genes. The results can contribute to an improved understanding of the genetics of behaviour.