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Open Access Research article

A novel point mutation within the EDA gene causes an exon dropping in mature RNA in Holstein Friesian cattle breed affected by X-linked anhidrotic ectodermal dysplasia

Maria Gargani*, Alessio Valentini and Lorraine Pariset

Author Affiliations

Department for Innovation in Biological, Agro-Food and Forest systems (DIBAF), University of Tuscia, Viterbo, Italy

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BMC Veterinary Research 2011, 7:35  doi:10.1186/1746-6148-7-35

Published: 8 July 2011



X-linked anhidrotic ectodermal dysplasia is a disorder characterized by abnormal development of tissues and organs of ectodermal origin caused by mutations in the EDA gene. The bovine EDA gene encodes the ectodysplasin A, a membrane protein expressed in keratinocytes, hair follicles and sweat glands, which is involved in the interactions between cell and cell and/or cell and matrix. Four mutations causing ectodermal dysplasia in cattle have been described so far.


We identified a new single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) at the 9th base of exon 8 in the EDA gene in two calves of Holstein Friesian cattle breed affected by ectodermal dysplasia. This SNP is located in the exonic splicing enhancer (ESEs) recognized by SRp40 protein. As a consequence, the spliceosome machinery is no longer able to recognize the sequence as exonic and causes exon skipping. The mutation determines the deletion of the entire exon (131 bp) in the RNA processing, causing a severe alteration of the protein structure and thus the disease.


We identified a mutation, never described before, that changes the regulation of alternative splicing in the EDA gene and causes ectodermal dysplasia in cattle. The analysis of the SNP allows the identification of carriers that can transmit the disease to the offspring. This mutation can thus be exploited for a rational and efficient selection of unequivocally healthy cows for breeding.