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Researchers identify gene involved in dog size

m more than 3,000 dogs from 143 breeds to pinpoint a specific gene sequence variant, or haplotype, associated with small size in the canine genetic code. Nearly all of the small dogs studied shared this genetic variant, implicating it as a major influence on stature in dogs.

Based on their genomic analysis, the researchers also concluded that the small size trait emerged relatively early in the history of domestic dogs. They hypothesize that small size may have facilitated the rapid diversification among domestic dog breeds by making it easier for humans to maintain them in the crowded confines of developing villages and cities, as well as making them more transportable during trade and migration.

Future aims of the study are to identify genes that control other aspects of canine morphology including, for instance, leg length and skull shape.

Three high-resolution photos depicting the wide size range among dog breeds are available at: www.genome.gov/pressDisplay.cfm?photoID=20009; www.genome.gov/pressDisplay.cfm?photoID=20010; and www.genome.gov/pressDisplay.cfm?photoID=20011.

The new finding follows on the completion of the dog genome sequence, announced in December 2005, research that is a part of NHGRI's Large-Scale Sequencing Research Network. The availability of the dog genome sequence allows researchers to better compare the human and dog genomes and narrow their search for genetic contributors to cancer and other major diseases.

Researchers can access the dog sequence data through the following public databases: Dog Genome Resources (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/genome/guide/dog) at NIH's National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI); EMBL Bank (
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Source:NIH/National Human Genome Research Institute


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