Researchers have identified the genetic mutation responsible for Lavender Foal Syndrome. Lavender Foal Syndrome (LFS), also known as Coat Color Dilution Lethal (CCDL), is a fatal disease of newborn Arabian foals, particularly in those of Egyptian Arabian breeding.
The condition gets its name from the abnormal coat colour with which most affected foals are born, which has been described as silver sheen, lavender, pale chestnut or pale, dull pinkish grey.
Signs shown by affected foals include seizures, nystagmus (involuntary movement of the eyeballs), limb rigidity, paddling movements, and opisthotonus (hyperextension of the head, neck, and spine). The mare often has difficulty giving birth.
A team of scientists from Cornell University and the Maxwell H Gluck Equine Research Center have found that Lavender Foal Syndrome is the result of a mutation in a gene called myosin Va (MYO5A).
The myosin Va transport complex is responsible for the transfer of pigment to the keratinocytes and for transport of transmitter substances in the nerve cells. A mutation affecting the gene could easily result in interference with normal function of melanocytes (responsible for hair color) and nerve cells.
“Our results suggest that the population frequency of carriers of this deletion is 10.3% in the Egyptian Arabian” reports lead researcher Dr Samantha A. Brooks, assistant professor in the Department of Animal Science at Cornell University's College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.
“Given our estimate of the number of carriers in the population we expect that around nine LFS foals would be born in the USA each year”
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