A de novo germline mutation of KIT in a white-spotted Brown Swiss cow

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SummaryWhite-spotting coat colour phenotypes in cattle are either fixed characteristics of specific cattle breeds or occur sporadically owing to germline genetic variation of solid-coloured parents. A Brown Swiss cow showing a piebald pattern resembling colour-sidedness was referred for genetic evaluation. Both parents were normal solid-brown-coloured cattle. The cow was tested negative for the three known DNA variants in KIT, MITF and TWIST2 associated with different depigmentation phenotypes in Brown Swiss cattle. Whole-genome sequencing of the cow was performed and a heterozygous variant affecting the coding sequence of the bovine KIT gene was identified on chromosome 6. The variant is a 40 bp deletion in exon 9, NM_001166484.1:c.1390_1429del, and leads to a frameshift that is predicted to produce a novel 50 amino acid-long C-terminus replacing almost 50% of the wt KIT protein, including the functionally important intracellular tyrosine kinase domain (NP_001159956.1:p.(Asn464AlafsTer50)). Interestingly, among three available offspring, two solid-coloured daughters were genotyped as homozygous wt whereas a single son showing a slightly milder but still obvious depigmentation phenotype inherited a copy of the novel variant allele. The genetic findings provide strong evidence that the identified loss-of-function KIT variant most likely represents a de novo germline mutation that is causative owing to haploinsufficiency.

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