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Equine Multiple Congenital Ocular Anomalies maps to a 4.9 megabase interval on horse chromosome 6

Lisa S Andersson1, Rytis Juras2, David T Ramsey35, Jessica Eason-Butler46, Susan Ewart4, Gus Cothran2 and Gabriella Lindgren1*

Author Affiliations

1 Dept of Animal Breeding and Genetics, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Box 597, SE-751 24 Uppsala, Sweden

2 Dept of Veterinary Integrative Biosciences, College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX 77843-4458, USA

3 Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences, 240 National Food Safety and Toxicology Center, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI 48824, USA

4 Department of Large Animal Clinical Sciences, G-100 Veterinary Medical Center, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI 48824, USA

5 The Animal Ophthalmology Center, PLLC, 1300 W. Grand River Avenue, Williamston, MI 48895, USA

6 Asterand, 440 Burroughs Detroit, MI 48202, USA

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BMC Genetics 2008, 9:88  doi:10.1186/1471-2156-9-88

Published: 19 December 2008



Equine Multiple Congenital Ocular Anomalies (MCOA) syndrome consists of a diverse set of abnormalities predominantly localized to the frontal part of the eye. The disease is in agreement with a codominant mode of inheritance in our horse material. Animals presumed to be heterozygous for the mutant allele have cysts originating from the temporal ciliary body, peripheral retina and/or iris. In contrast, animals predicted to be homozygous for the disease-causing allele possess a wide range of multiple abnormalities, including iridociliary and/or peripheral retinal cysts, iridocorneal angle abnormalities, cornea globosa, iris hypoplasia and congenital cataracts. MCOA is most common in the Rocky Mountain horse breed where it occurs at a high frequency among Silver colored horses. The Silver coat color is associated with mutations in PMEL17 that resides on ECA6q23. To map the MCOA locus we analyzed 11 genetic markers on ECA6q and herein describe a chromosome interval for the MCOA locus.


We performed linkage analysis within 17 paternal half-sib families of the Rocky Mountain horse breed. More than half of the 131 offspring had the Cyst phenotype and about one third had MCOA. Segregation data were obtained by genotyping 10 microsatellite markers most of which are positioned on ECA6q22-23, as well as the missense mutation for the Silver phenotype in PMEL17. Significant linkage was found between the MCOA locus and eight of the genetic markers, where marker UPP5 (Theta = 0, z = 12.3), PMEL17ex11 (Theta = 0, z = 19.0) and UPP6 (Theta = 0, z = 17.5) showed complete linkage with the MCOA locus. DNA sequencing of PMEL17 in affected and healthy control individuals did not reveal any additional mutations than the two mutations associated with the Silver coat color.


The MCOA locus can with high confidence be positioned within a 4.9 megabase (Mb) interval on ECA6q. The genotype data on UPP5, PMEL17ex11 and UPP6 strongly support the hypothesis that horses with the Cyst phenotype are heterozygous for the mutant allele and that horses with the MCOA phenotype are homozygous for the mutant allele.