Filling the Gaps in the Canine Genome

The sequencing of the genome of man’s best friend in 2005 has provided an invaluable resource to the canine research community, and has reinforced the position of the dog as an important model organism to study human physiology and disease.

Unlike the human and the rodent models (the mouse and the rat), very few dog genes had been sequenced prior to its whole genome sequencing. Consequently, the dog genome has been annotated for its gene content primarily based on mapping the gene-related sequences from the human, the mouse, the rat, and other non-dog species to the dog genome.

While providing the research community with an unprecedentedly large set of dog genes, the definition of DNA sequences as coding sequences (i.e. gene annotation) has substantial errors and is missing in dog-specific information in many aspects. This significantly hinders research in many fields such as disease gene discovery and cancer-causative gene mutation identification, where functional information about a gene is required to make progress. Recently emerged next-generation sequencing (NGS) technologies provide an unprecedented opportunity to correct these errors and to supply the missing information in the current dog gene annotation in a time- and cost-effective fashion.

We propose herein to use state of the art NGS strategies to identify genes/transcripts expressed in major dog tissues and cell types. The valuable data, along with more refined sequence alignment between the dog and other species, will be used to build the most accurate and complete annotation of the dog genome for its gene annotation. The project will significantly facilitate research in areas of canine health most significant to the AKC Canine Health Foundation constituency and lead to important RNA-based (transcriptomic) and protein-based (proteomic) research in the future.

Co-sponsored with the AKC Canine Health Foundation, Grant Number: 01849


Shaying Zhao, PhD
University of Georgia