Genetic analysis of optic nerve head coloboma in the Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever identifies discordance with the NHEJ1 intronic deletion (collie eye anomaly mutation)

Vet Ophthalmol. 2018 Mar;21(2):144-150. doi: 10.1111/vop.12488. Epub 2017 Jul 12.


Collie eye anomaly (CEA) encompasses a spectrum of different ophthalmic phenotypes from clinically inconsequential choroidal hypoplasia to blindness from coloboma of the optic nerve head (ONH). A previous study found a 7.8-kb deletion in intron 4 of the NHEJ1 gene to be associated with CEA. A genetic test based on this association is recommended for many breeds, including the Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever (NSDTR). Collection of ONH coloboma-affected NSDTR showed lack of concordance of the NHEJ1 intronic deletion with ONH coloboma. Using genomewide single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) genotyping in 7 ONH coloboma-affected NSDTR cases and 47 unaffected NSDTR controls with no ophthalmic signs, one SNP, located on chromosome 7, demonstrated genomewide significance. However, high genomic inflation may have confounded the results. Therefore, the genomewide association study was repeated using EMMAX to control for population structure in the cohort of 7 cases and 47 controls. However, no regions of the genome were significantly associated with ONH coloboma. These results failed to document significant association with the CEA locus. Due to the complex genetic etiology of ONH coloboma, the NHEJ1 intronic deletion test results should be carefully considered when making breeding decisions. If the goal is to select for visually competent dogs, our data suggest that eye examinations of puppies would be more effective as a guide in selection of breeding pairs than relying solely on currently available genetic tests.

Keywords: collie eye anomaly; coloboma; dog; genomewide association; inherited; optic nerve head coloboma.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Breeding
  • Cohort Studies
  • Coloboma / diagnosis
  • Coloboma / genetics
  • Coloboma / veterinary*
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / genetics*
  • Dog Diseases / genetics*
  • Dogs
  • Gene Deletion*
  • Genetic Testing / veterinary
  • Genome-Wide Association Study / veterinary
  • Introns
  • Optic Nerve / abnormalities*


  • DNA-Binding Proteins

Supplementary concepts

  • Coloboma of optic nerve