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Collapsing Labradors: mutant gene blamed

Genetic scientists said Sunday they think they have figured out why some Labrador retrievers — the most popular dog breed in the world — are prone to collapsing after exercise.

The tendency among some Labradors, after as little as five minutes of strenuous exercise, to develop a wobbly gate, run a fever and lose control over their rear legs, was first spotted by vets in the 1990s.

Now, scientists say the syndrome, called exercise-induced collapse, is likely caused by mutation of a gene called dynamin 1, or DNM1, on the dog’s ninth chromosome that controls a key chemical in the nervous system.

In an experiment reported Sunday, University of Minnesota researchers carried out a gene scan of 96 dogs, 60 of which had the syndrome. Up to 30 per cent of Labrador retrievers carry the mutation, though only three to five per cent of them suffer from exercise-induced collapse, the scientists said.

The study appears in Nature Genetics, a journal of the British-based Nature Publishing Group.

The University of Minnesota team developed a gene test to see whether dogs have the normal or mutated form of DNM1, which could help dog breeders.

“This is very exciting because it is the first naturally occurring mutation of this gene identified in any mammal,” said James Mickelson, a professor of veterinary sciences at the university. “Its discovery could offer insight into normal as well as abnormal neurobiology in both animals and humans.”


Comment from AlisaBS
Time September 24, 2008 at 9:47 am

And all along we just thought Buddy was out of shape.

Comment from bluhawkk
Time September 24, 2008 at 4:56 pm

My neighbor has a 9 month old Lab that he takes to the doggie park. When she comes back she always seems more physically exhausted than she should be for such a young animal. Of course she might be playing very, very hard, but I emailed the article to them just as an alert.