What’s Behind Horses’ White Spots?
Swiss researchers have taken another step toward unraveling the mystery of the white body hair in horses. In their new whole-genome study, they’ve found yet another variation responsible for yet-unexplained white spotting, one they’ve named W22.
“By now, research from many groups, including our own, has shown that ‘white spotting phenotypes’ in horses are quite heterogeneous,” said Tosso Leeb, PhD, professor at the University of Bern Institute of Genetics, in Switzerland. “This means there is a large number of different genetic variants that leads to horses with nonpigmented body parts. Our research has just uncovered yet one more.”
Leeb’s group sequenced the whole genome of a horse with white spotting patterns that could not be explained by any current genomic testing. They found a variation—a deletion of nearly 2,000 base pairs—in the KIT gene. That gene is the site where other white-pattern variations occur, Leeb said. But his group was the first to discover the existence of the W22 variation, which causes a part of the gene to simply not
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