A SINE insertion causes the black-and-tan and saddle tan phenotypes in domestic dogs

J Hered. Sep-Oct 2011;102 Suppl 1:S11-8. doi: 10.1093/jhered/esr042.


Agouti Signaling Protein (ASIP) controls the localized expression of red and black pigment in the domestic dog through interaction with other genes, such as Melanocortin 1 Receptor and Beta-Defensin 103. Specific ASIP alleles are necessary for many of the coat color patterns, such as black-and-tan and saddle tan. Mutations in 2 ASIP alleles, a(y) and a, have previously been identified. Here, we characterize a mutation consisting of a short interspersed nuclear element (SINE) insertion in intron 1 of ASIP that allows for the differentiation of the a(w) wolf sable and a(t) black-and-tan alleles. The SINE insertion is present in dogs with the a(t) and a alleles but absent from dogs with the a(w) and a(y) alleles. Dogs with the saddle tan phenotype were all a(t)/a(t). Schnauzers were all a(w)/a(w). Genotypes of 201 dogs of 35 breeds suggest that there are only 4 ASIP alleles, as opposed to the 5 or 6 predicted in previous literature. These data demonstrate that the dominance hierarchy of ASIP is a(y) > a(w) > a(t) > a.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Agouti Signaling Protein / genetics*
  • Animals
  • Base Sequence
  • DNA Primers / genetics
  • Dogs / genetics*
  • Dogs / physiology
  • Genotype
  • Hair / physiology*
  • Inheritance Patterns / genetics
  • Introns / genetics
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Phenotype*
  • Pigmentation / genetics*
  • Pigmentation / physiology
  • Sequence Analysis, DNA
  • Short Interspersed Nucleotide Elements / genetics*
  • Species Specificity


  • Agouti Signaling Protein
  • DNA Primers