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PLoS Genet. 2015 Apr 13;11(4):e1005122. doi: 10.1371/journal.pgen.1005122. eCollection 2015 Apr.

SERPINB11 frameshift variant associated with novel hoof specific phenotype in Connemara ponies.

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Department of Population Health and Reproduction, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of California Davis, Davis, California, United States of America.
Department of Animal Science, University of California Davis, Davis, California, United States of America.
Department of Pathology, Microbiology and Immunology, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of California Davis, Davis, California, United States of America.
Genome Center Bioinformatics Core, University of California Davis, Davis, California United States of America.
Institute of Veterinary, Animal and Biomedical Sciences (IVABS) Massey University, Palmerston North, New Zealand.


Horses belong to the order Perissodactyla and bear the majority of their weight on their third toe; therefore, tremendous force is applied to each hoof. An inherited disease characterized by a phenotype restricted to the dorsal hoof wall was identified in the Connemara pony. Hoof wall separation disease (HWSD) manifests clinically as separation of the dorsal hoof wall along the weight-bearing surface of the hoof during the first year of life. Parents of affected ponies appeared clinically normal, suggesting an autosomal recessive mode of inheritance. A case-control allelic genome wide association analysis was performed (ncases = 15, ncontrols = 24). Population stratification (λ = 1.48) was successfully improved by removing outliers (ncontrols = 7) identified on a multidimensional scaling plot. A genome-wide significant association was detected on chromosome 8 (praw = 1.37x10-10, pgenome = 1.92x10-5). A homozygous region identified in affected ponies spanned from 79,936,024-81,676,900 bp and contained a family of 13 annotated SERPINB genes. Whole genome next-generation sequencing at 6x coverage of two cases and two controls revealed 9,758 SNVs and 1,230 indels within the ~1.7-Mb haplotype, of which 17 and 5, respectively, segregated with the disease and were located within or adjacent to genes. Additional genotyping of these 22 putative functional variants in 369 Connemara ponies (ncases = 23, ncontrols = 346) and 169 horses of other breeds revealed segregation of three putative variants adjacent or within four SERPIN genes. Two of the variants were non-coding and one was an insertion within SERPINB11 that introduced a frameshift resulting in a premature stop codon. Evaluation of mRNA levels at the proximal hoof capsule (ncases = 4, ncontrols = 4) revealed that SERPINB11 expression was significantly reduced in affected ponies (p<0.001). Carrier frequency was estimated at 14.8%. This study describes the first genetic variant associated with a hoof wall specific phenotype and suggests a role of SERPINB11 in maintaining hoof wall structure.

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