A PNPLA8 frameshift variant in Australian shepherd dogs with hereditary ataxia

Anim Genet. 2022 Oct;53(5):709-712. doi: 10.1111/age.13245. Epub 2022 Jul 21.


Hereditary ataxias are common among canine breeds with various molecular etiology. We identified a hereditary ataxia in young-adult Australian Shepherd dogs characterized by uncoordinated movements and spasticity, worsening progressively and leading to inability to walk. Pedigree analysis suggested an autosomal recessive transmission. By whole genome sequencing and variant filtering of an affected dog we identified a PNPLA8:c.1169_1170dupTT variant. This variant, located in PNPLA8 (Patatin Like Phospholipase Domain Containing 8), was predicted to induce a PNPLA8:p.(His391PhefsTer394) frameshift, leading to a premature stop codon in the protein. The truncated protein was predicted to lack the functional patatin catalytic domain of PNPLA8, a calcium-independent phospholipase. PNPLA8 is known to be essential for maintaining mitochondrial energy production through tailoring mitochondrial membrane lipid metabolism and composition. The Australian Shepherd ataxia shares molecular and clinical features with Weaver syndrome in cattle and the mitochondrial-related neurodegeneration associated with PNPLA8 loss-of-function variants in humans. By genotyping a cohort of 85 control Australian Shepherd dogs sampled in France, we found a 4.7% carrier frequency. The PNPLA8:c.[1169_1170dupTT] allele is easily detectable with a genetic test to avoid at-risk matings.

Keywords: Weaver syndrome; canine; cattle; mitochondria; neurodegeneration; patatin domain; phospholipase.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Australia
  • Cattle
  • Cattle Diseases* / genetics
  • Dog Diseases* / genetics
  • Dogs
  • Frameshift Mutation
  • Humans
  • Pedigree
  • Phospholipases / genetics
  • Spinocerebellar Degenerations*


  • Phospholipases