A de novo mutation in CACNA1A is associated with autosomal dominant bovine familial convulsions and ataxia in Angus cattle

Anim Genet. 2024 Jun;55(3):344-351. doi: 10.1111/age.13409. Epub 2024 Mar 1.


Bovine familial convulsions and ataxia (BFCA) is considered an autosomal dominant syndrome with incomplete penetrance. Nine Angus calves from the same herd were diagnosed with BFCA within days of birth. Necropsy revealed cerebellar and spinal cord lesions associated with the condition. Parentage testing confirmed that all affected calves had a common sire. The sire was then bred to 36 cows across two herds using artificial insemination, producing an additional 14 affected calves. The objective of this investigation was to identify hypothesized dominant genetic variation underlying the condition. Whole-genome sequencing was performed on the sire, six affected and seven unaffected paternal half-sibling calves and combined with data from 135 unrelated controls. The sire and five of the six affected calves were heterozygous for a nonsense variant (Chr7 g.12367906C>T, c.5073C>T, p.Arg1681*) in CACNA1A. The other affected calves (N = 8) were heterozygous for the variant but it was absent in the other unaffected calves (N = 7) and parents of the sire. This variant was also absent in sequence data from over 6500 other cattle obtained via public repositories and collaborator projects. The variant in CACNA1A is expressed in the cerebellum of the ataxic calves as detected in the transcriptome and was not differentially expressed compared with controls. The CACNA1A protein is part of a highly expressed cerebellar calcium voltage gated channel. The nonsense variant is proposed to cause haploinsufficiency, preventing proper transmission of neuronal signals through the channel and resulting in BFCA.

Keywords: Bos taurus; BFCA; haploinsufficiency; incomplete penetrance.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Ataxia* / genetics
  • Ataxia* / veterinary
  • Calcium Channels* / genetics
  • Cattle / genetics
  • Cattle Diseases* / genetics
  • Female
  • Genes, Dominant
  • Male
  • Mutation
  • Seizures* / genetics
  • Seizures* / veterinary
  • Whole Genome Sequencing / veterinary


  • Calcium Channels

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