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Vet J. 2007 May;173(3):548-53. Epub 2006 Sep 7.

Does a pleiotropic gene explain deafness and blue irises in white cats?

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  • 1Institute of Animal Genetics, Nutrition and Housing, Vetsuisse Faculty of the University of Berne, Switzerland.


The prevalence of deafness is high in cat populations in which the dominant white gene is segregating. The objective of this study was to investigate whether there is a gene that is responsible for deafness as well as for blue eyes and to establish a plausible mode of inheritance. For this purpose, data from an experimental colony with deaf cats were analyzed. The hearing status was determined by acoustically evoked brain stem responses (BAER). Complex segregation analyses were conducted to find out the most probable mode of inheritance using maximum likelihood procedures. The prevalence of deafness and partial hearing in the experimental colony was 67% and 29%, respectively. The results of the bivariate segregation analysis support the hypothesis of a pleiotropic major gene segregating for deafness and blue iris colour. The high heritability coefficients for both traits, 0.55 and 0.75 respectively, indicate that beside the major gene there is an important influence of polygenic effects.

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