Welcome to Give a Dog a Genome, a new initiative launched by the Kennel Club Genetics Centre at the AHT to create the UK’s largest canine genome bank to help generations of dogs.
This genome bank will improve dog health by radically increasing our understanding of the canine genome by sequencing the entire genome (all 2.4 billion letters of DNA) of a large number of different breeds.
Since Give a Dog a Genome (GDG) was launched on 25 January 2016 support for the project by breed communities has been extraordinary. To date 74 breeds have registered their interest, with 44 of these having already raised the £1,000 donation required to secure their place in the genome bank.
In order to meet the enthusiasm of so many breeds, we are currently securing additional funding that will enable us to sequence the genome of a dog from 75 breeds, instead of 50 breeds as originally proposed. This will be known as ‘phase 1’ or GDG1.
As we start the exciting process of selecting dogs for sequencing any additional breeds wishing to participate in Give a Dog a Genome will be entered into the second phase of the project, GDG2, that is expected to begin during 2017. Breeds that are entered into GDG2 will not be asked to make their £1,000 donation until 2017.
We will now begin a dialogue with each Breed regarding the choice of dog for sequencing. We will begin by asking breed health co-ordinators to provide information about their breed’s main health concerns. This will enable us to collate information from all the participating breeds and to decide if it will be more valuable to sequence a dog that is either affected with an inherited disorder of concern to the breed or an older, healthy dog, on a breed by breed basis. The final choice of dogs whose genomes are sequenced will be made by the Animal Health Trust and the identity of all dogs will be kept confidential.
What is Give a Dog a Genome?
Every genome we sequence is a permanent resource which will contribute towards our research for many years to come, to the benefit of all breeds — not just those we can sequence now.
By undertaking this colossal task – DNA is a string of A, C, G & Ts…if each was 1mm long the whole genome of each dog we sequence would stretch from Lands End to John O’Groats and back again! – we will enhance our understanding of which changes in DNA sequence have an effect on dog health and which changes are benign or neutral.
This information will have profound effects on our ability to identify mutations which cause inherited diseases in purebred dogs, and the rate at which we can develop new DNA tests as tools for breeders. Give a Dog a Genome will revolutionise canine genetics research and is therefore a hugely important project to the future of dog health.
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The Norwich Terrier Club Committee discussed the new AHT initiative, Give a Dog a Genome, and took their recommendation to take part to members present at the Annual General Meeting on 9 th . April 2016.
( Please bear in mind that this venture is not connected to the AHT Research in Epileptoid cramping in Norwich Terriers. It is a separate initiative.)
Members present at the AGM made the decision that they would like the breed to take part and agreed to the Club’s payment to the AHT of £ 1000.
On receiving the decision letter to participate in this new initiative from Eileen Needham, KC Breed Health Co-ordinator for Norwich Terriers, the following confirmation from the AHT was received:
‘Dear Breed Health Co-ordinator,
I would like to thank you and your breed community for participating in Give a Dog a Genome (GDG).
We are now ready to start the next stage of the project, which is to select the dog whose genome we will sequence.
The overall objective of GDG is to build a bank of genomes that will help us distinguish between DNA variants (mutations) that are neutral/benign and those that cause inherited disorders, in all breeds of dog. To this end, we have two options;
• we could sequence the genome of a dog that is affected with an inherited disorder that is known to be a concern in your breed, in the hope that we can make some progress understanding the genetic factors that might underlie the disorder?, or
• we can sequence the genome of an apparently healthy, older dog
The amount of progress we can reasonably expect to make from a single genome depends on the complexity of the disease, the mode of inheritance of the disorder and the nature of the underlying genetic risk factors.
For autosomal, recessive disorders that are likely to be caused by a single mutation it is possible that we could identify the causal mutation by sequencing the genome of a single dog, in the same way we used whole genome sequencing to identify the mutation responsible for a rare form of cerebellar ataxia in the Hungarian Vizsla:
httz//www.aht.orujj_qcms-display/genetics gdg success stories.html
For more complex disorders, such as idiopathic epilepsy, we are less likely to identify genetic risk factors associated with the disease from a single genome, but the genome will provide data onto which future studies can build.
To enable us to make informed and appropriate choices for each breed we would like to know more about the health disorders that are currently of concern among your breed community and any evidence that may support this.
By gathering this information we will be able to make a decision on a breed by breed basis on whether it will be more valuable to sequence an older, healthy dog or a dog with a health condition you’ve highlighted to us.
We would be grateful if you can please provide some basic information about the health conditions on the attached form and any evidence that indicates that these are significant health concerns for your breed (if any is available). Please also let us know if you are aware of any other research currently being done into the health condition(s) at any other institutions as our findings might be able to benefit these studies.
Please complete the attached form, in consultation with your respective Health Committees or equivalent, and anyone else whose input would be useful, and return itto us.
We will collate all the information we receive and contact you again from July to discuss our suggestions for the dog we should sequence. Prior to sequencing, for the majority of breeds, DNA from multiple dogs will be subjected to our standard quality control checks to make sure the sample is high enough quality to be sequenced and we will keep the identity of the dog whose genome we ultimately submit for sequencing confidential.
We look forward to receiving your feedback shortly,
Cathryn and the rest of the Give a Dog a Genome Team’
Animal Health Trust