Mutations within the FGF5 gene are associated with hair length in cats


T. Leeb, Institute of Genetics, Vetsuisse Faculty, University of Berne, Bremgartenstrasse 109a, 3001 Berne, Switzerland.


Hereditary hair length variability in mice and dogs is caused by mutations within the fibroblast growth factor 5 (FGF5) gene. The aim of this study was to evaluate the feline FGF5 orthologue as a functional candidate gene for the long hair phenotype in cats, which is recessive to short hair. We amplified the feline FGF5 cDNA and characterised two alternatively spliced transcripts by RT-PCR. Comparative cDNA and genomic DNA sequencing of long- and short-haired cats revealed four non-synonymous polymorphisms in the FGF5 coding sequence. A missense mutation (AM412646:c.194C>A) was found in the homozygous state in 25 long-haired Somali, Persian, Maine Coon, Ragdoll and crossbred cats. Fifty-five short-haired cats had zero or one copy of this allele. Additionally, we found perfect co-segregation of the c.194C>A mutation within two independent pedigrees segregating for hair length. A second FGF5 exon 1 missense mutation (AM412646:c.182T>A) was found exclusively in long-haired Norwegian Forest cats. The c.182T>A mutation probably represents a second FGF5 mutation responsible for long hair in cats. In addition to the c.194C>A mutation, a frameshift mutation (AM412646:c.474delT) was found with a high frequency in the long-haired Maine Coon breed. Finally, a missense mutation (AM412646:c.475A>C) was also associated with the long-haired phenotype in some breeds. However, as one short-haired cat was homozygous for this polymorphism, it is unlikely that it has a functional role in the determination of hair length.