Department of Population, Health, and Reproduction, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of California at Davis
The presence or absence of white spots on a domestic cat can be a financially important trait for cat breeders, especially in certain breeds. For example, the Turkish Van breed requires that patches of color be present on the head and tail, while the rest of the body must be white. Curiously, this same marking pattern that defines the Turkish Van is also present in other breeds, including Persians and Japanese Bobtails, and can occur in offspring from non-"van"-patterned cats; indeed, some cat breeders have attempted to develop breeding strategies that increase the number of kittens born with "van" or other white spotting patterns. Previous research has linked the locus responsible for the white spotting patterns known as "and white" and "van" in the domestic cat to a region of the genome that contains the gene c-kit. The porcine c-kit homologue has been identified as the causative gene for the dominant white phenotype in the pig, and the murine c-kit homologue has long been studied as the gene responsible for dominant white and some white spotting patterns in the mouse. In this study, genomic DNA from solid colored, dominant white, "and white", and "van" patterned cats was sequenced and analyzed for single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in the c-kit gene; additionally, c-kit cDNA from one solid colored cat and one dominant white cat was sequenced and analyzed for mutations. Several mutations were identified in both the genomic and cDNA sequence, and have been analyzed for potential causative effect and for segregation through families of white spotted cats.