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College of Forest Resources and Environmental Science


Two transcribed retrocopies of the fibroblast growth factor 4 (FGF4) gene have previously been described in the domestic dog. An FGF4 retrocopy on chr18 is associated with disproportionate dwarfism, while an FGF4 retrocopy on chr12 is associated with both disproportionate dwarfism and intervertebral disc disease (IVDD). In this study, whole-genome sequencing data were queried to identify other FGF4 retrocopies that could be contributing to phenotypic diversity in canids. Additionally, dogs with surgically confirmed IVDD were assayed for novel FGF4 retrocopies. Five additional and distinct FGF4 retrocopies were identified in canids including a copy unique to red wolves (Canis rufus). The FGF4 retrocopies identified in domestic dogs were identical to domestic dog FGF4 haplotypes, which are distinct from modern wolf FGF4 haplotypes, indicating that these retrotransposition events likely occurred after domestication. The identification of multiple, full length FGF4 retrocopies with open reading frames in canids indicates that gene retrotransposition events occur much more frequently than previously thought and provide a mechanism for continued genetic and phenotypic diversity in canids.

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© 2020 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license ( Publisher’s version of record:

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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.


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