A Heterozygous Missense Variant in MAP2K2 in a Stillborn Romagnola Calf with Skeletal-Cardio-Enteric Dysplasia

Animals (Basel). 2021 Jun 29;11(7):1931. doi: 10.3390/ani11071931.


RASopathies are a group of developmental disorders caused by dominant mutations in genes that encode components of the Ras/mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) cell signaling pathway. The goal of this study was to characterize the pathological phenotype of a Romagnola stillborn calf with skeletal-cardio-enteric dysplasia and to identify a genetic cause by whole-genome sequencing (WGS). The calf showed reduced fetal growth, a short-spine, a long and narrow face, cardiac defects and heterotopy of the spiral colon. Genetic analysis revealed a private heterozygous missense variant in MAP2K2:p.Arg179Trp, located in the protein kinase domain in the calf, and not found in more than 4500 control genomes including its sire. The identified variant affecting a conserved residue was predicted to be deleterious and most likely occurred de novo. This represents the first example of a dominant acting, and most likely pathogenic, variant in MAP2K2 in domestic animals, thereby providing the first MAP2K2-related large animal model, especially in respect to the enteric malformation. In addition, this study demonstrates the utility of WGS-based precise diagnostics for understanding sporadic congenital syndromic anomalies in cattle and the general utility of continuous surveillance for rare hereditary defects in cattle.

Keywords: RASopathy; cardiac defect; cattle; congenital malformations; development; heterotopy; precision medicine; short spine.