A glycine transporter SLC6A5 frameshift mutation causes startle disease in Spanish greyhounds

Hum Genet. 2019 May;138(5):509-513. doi: 10.1007/s00439-019-01986-x. Epub 2019 Mar 7.


Startle disease, or hyperekplexia, is a glycinergic disorder characterized by hypertonia and apnea that is triggered by noise and/or touch. Mutations in five genes have been associated with startle disease in humans, dogs, cattle, and mice. We identified a novel recessive startle disease in a family of Spanish greyhounds. Whole genome resequencing of an affected dog revealed a homozygous two base pair deletion in the ninth exon of SLC6A5, encoding the presynaptic glycine transporter. The deletion is predicted to cause a frameshift, p.S460FfsX47, leading to a premature stop codon that truncates over a third of the protein. Family members were genotyped for the deletion, and findings were consistent with an autosomal recessive inheritance pattern. The pathogenic variant was absent from 34 unrelated greyhounds, 659 domestic dogs of pure and mixed breeds, and 54 wild canids, suggesting it occurred recently and may be private to the family. The findings of this study can be used to inform future breeding decisions and prevent dissemination of the deleterious allele in greyhounds.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Codon, Nonsense / genetics
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Dog Diseases / genetics*
  • Dogs
  • Frameshift Mutation / genetics*
  • Glycine Plasma Membrane Transport Proteins / genetics*
  • Sequence Deletion / genetics
  • Stiff-Person Syndrome / genetics*
  • Stiff-Person Syndrome / veterinary*
  • Whole Genome Sequencing


  • Codon, Nonsense
  • Glycine Plasma Membrane Transport Proteins