The Veterinary Cardiac Genetics Laboratory at WSU has experienced very successful growth in our testing service for the HCM Mutation. In December 2005, we implemented a specialized testing service that had never been offered to the Maine Coon community. Our initial service was understandably slow and occasionally problematic as we developed a revolutionary and successful protocol to test cat DNA for the HCM Mutation. We have appreciated the support of the Maine Coon community as we steadily climbed the upward spiral of our learning curve.

Today, we are happy to report that we have perfected our protocol so that a typical sample is processed to result within about two weeks from the date of submission. Both swab samples and blood samples seem to work equally well with our protocols. Of course, we still encounter the occasional sample that is problematic for DNA extraction and this may cause a delay in result publication for that sample.  

Our current statistics show that about 33.6% of all Maine Coons tested for this mutation return a positive result. About 4% to 5% of these positive results return a homozygous result. Because of the large number of positive cats tested, we support those breeders who are carefully breeding otherwise breed-worthy positive heterozygous cats to negative cats with the goal of moving forward with negative progeny. 

In our continued search for another HCM mutation, our lab has now completed analysis of another gene. We evaluated this gene because it is one of the commonly reported genes for human HCM. Unfortunately, we did not find any abnormalities in this gene in affected cats. But it is an important part of our effort to have eliminated this gene from our continued search. We are again working on the Myosin binding protein C gene. This is the gene that the original Maine Coon mutation was identified on and it is possible that some Maine Coons may have a mutation located in a different region of the gene. We have completed researching about 16% of this gene. This is comprised of 4 exonic regions. It is a more difficult gene to study than the other gene that we recently eliminated from our search.  The Myosin binding protein research moves slower as it has more areas that are different in the cat and people. We use the human version to start the analysis because the cat sequence is not known. The more different the genes are, the more difficult it is to get good material to study. 

As we move forward, we will strive to continue providing our best possible service. The support of the Maine Coon community continues to be crucial to our success both in research and service to the Maine Coon cat breed. 

Kathryn M. Meurs, DVM, PhD, Professor
Washington State University- College of Veterinary Medicine

 

 

 

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