A newly described bovine type 2 scurs syndrome segregates with a frame-shift mutation in TWIST1

PLoS One. 2011;6(7):e22242. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0022242. Epub 2011 Jul 21.


The developmental pathways involved in horn development are complex and still poorly understood. Here we report the description of a new dominant inherited syndrome in the bovine Charolais breed that we have named type 2 scurs. Clinical examination revealed that, despite a strong phenotypic variability, all affected individuals show both horn abnormalities similar to classical scurs phenotype and skull interfrontal suture synostosis. Based on a genome-wide linkage analysis using Illumina BovineSNP50 BeadChip genotyping data from 57 half-sib and full-sib progeny, this locus was mapped to a 1.7 Mb interval on bovine chromosome 4. Within this region, the TWIST1 gene encoding a transcription factor was considered as a strong candidate gene since its haploinsufficiency is responsible for the human Saethre-Chotzen syndrome, characterized by skull coronal suture synostosis. Sequencing of the TWIST1 gene identified a c.148_157dup (p.A56RfsX87) frame-shift mutation predicted to completely inactivate this gene. Genotyping 17 scurred and 20 horned founders of our pedigree as well as 48 unrelated horned controls revealed a perfect association between this mutation and the type 2 scurs phenotype. Subsequent genotyping of 32 individuals born from heterozygous parents showed that homozygous mutated progeny are completely absent, which is consistent with the embryonic lethality reported in Drosophila and mouse suffering from TWIST1 complete insufficiency. Finally, data from previous studies on model species and a fine description of type 2 scurs symptoms allowed us to propose different mechanisms to explain the features of this syndrome. In conclusion, this first report on the identification of a potential causal mutation affecting horn development in cattle offers a unique opportunity to better understand horn ontogenesis.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acrocephalosyndactylia / genetics*
  • Animals
  • Breeding
  • Cattle / genetics*
  • Cattle / growth & development
  • Female
  • Frameshift Mutation / genetics*
  • Genetic Linkage
  • Horns / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Phenotype
  • Syndrome
  • Twist-Related Protein 1 / genetics*


  • Twist-Related Protein 1