Genome-Wide Analyses for Osteosarcoma in Leonberger Dogs Reveal the CDKN2A/B Gene Locus as a Major Risk Locus

Genes (Basel). 2021 Dec 9;12(12):1964. doi: 10.3390/genes12121964.


Dogs represent a unique spontaneous cancer model. Osteosarcoma (OSA) is the most common primary bone tumor in dogs (OMIA 001441-9615), and strongly resembles human forms of OSA. Several large- to giant-sized dog breeds, including the Leonberger, have a greatly increased risk of developing OSA. We performed genome-wide association analysis with high-density imputed SNP genotype data from 273 Leonberger cases with a median age of 8.1 [3.1-13.5] years and 365 controls older than eight years. This analysis revealed significant associations at the CDKN2A/B gene locus on canine chromosome 11, mirroring previous findings in other dog breeds, such as the greyhound, that also show an elevated risk for OSA. Heritability (h2SNP) was determined to be 20.6% (SE = 0.08; p-value = 5.7 × 10-4) based on a breed prevalence of 20%. The 2563 SNPs across the genome accounted for nearly all the h2SNP of OSA, with 2183 SNPs of small effect, 316 SNPs of moderate effect, and 64 SNPs of large effect. As with many other cancers it is likely that regulatory, non-coding variants underlie the increased risk for cancer development. Our findings confirm a complex genetic basis of OSA, moderate heritability, and the crucial role of the CDKN2A/B locus leading to strong cancer predisposition in dogs. It will ultimately be interesting to study and compare the known genetic loci associated with canine OSA in human OSA.

Keywords: CDKN2A/B; Leonberger; animal model; bone cancer; canis familiaris; osteosarcoma.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bone Neoplasms / genetics
  • Bone Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Cyclin-Dependent Kinase Inhibitor p15 / genetics*
  • Cyclin-Dependent Kinase Inhibitor p16 / genetics*
  • Dog Diseases / genetics
  • Dog Diseases / pathology*
  • Dogs
  • Genetic Loci*
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease
  • Genome
  • Genome-Wide Association Study
  • Osteosarcoma / genetics
  • Osteosarcoma / pathology*
  • Polymorphism, Single Nucleotide*


  • Cyclin-Dependent Kinase Inhibitor p15
  • Cyclin-Dependent Kinase Inhibitor p16