The AKC also has a DNA program. Is this program the same thing as the ESSFTA Foundation DNA Bank? Just what is the ESSFTA Foundation DNA Bank?
They are two very different programs. The AKC program is for dog and parental identification purposes only. They use 10-20 different DNA markers which, according to our current knowledge, are unrelated to canine disease or anything else, but are unique to every individual dog with the possible exception of two dogs that are identical twins. The DNA configuration can also be used to determine the parentage of each individual dog. Therefore, the differences in these markers between dogs can be used to make, virtually, a positive identification of any particular dog or its parents. The purpose of the AKC DNA program is not disease research but pedigree integrity. This can be accomplished by using their panel of identified markers.
The ESSFTA Foundation DNA Bank, on the other hand, is designed to store DNA for current and future research and testing, as DNA tests become available. DNA is isolated from blood, tissue, or frozen semen samples submitted by owners and stored by Dr. Gary Johnson of the University of Missouri College of Veterinary Medicine. Banked DNA may be withdrawn by either Dr. Johnson or by the ESSFTA Foundation for approved research projects of benefit to English Springer Spaniels. Ten percent of the DNA sample from each dog is available to be withdrawn by the donor for DNA tests available now or which may be available in the future. Samples can be donated by a dog’s owner or by a breeder, if the samples were collected from a litter of puppies.
What kinds of research will be done with the banked DNA?
It is impossible to predict what research may be done with our Springers’ DNA fifty or 100 years from now. In the near term, however, the DNA is being used in research on such diseases as epilepsy and PRA. The DNA bank has been useful for new or emerging research projects – there are dogs that are now gone that have some trait that is of interest for research and, if they’re banked, we can still use them. For some research, the technologies are improving more and more, so the ability to make progress toward an answer is improving. With samples banked, we can go back to whatever dogs may be useful, and (hopefully!) make progress. As new mutations are identified for various diseases, we can sample the stored DNA and determine a relative frequency of a mutation in the breed and help determine if this is something useful for ESS fanciers to test for.
What type of sample is required from my dog?
We are requesting 10cc’s of whole blood from adult dogs and older puppies. From young puppies, 3cc’s are sufficient, though you may want to9 send and additional sample when they are older so that there is more DNA banked. The 10cc’s may be sent in either a 10cc tube or two 5cc tubes. Whole blood (unclotted) is the ideal sample for DNA banking. This gives a high yield of high quality DNA, using a relatively straightforward extraction process. The DNA extracted from blood samples has been reliable and useful on all the various sequencing, mapping and testing platforms developed so far. Although there is an investment up front to collect the blood sample, ship it and extract DNA, it has the benefit of yielding high quality and relatively high quantity of DNA that is useful in any application.
Can docked puppy tails or dewclaws be submitted?
Initially we thought this would be an easy way to get DNA on entire litters. It does have the benefit of easy access (they’re going in the trash anyway!), and the breeder can insure that all pups are sampled. There have been some issues with identity of individuals, but the main drawback is the large amount of effort needed to get any usable DNA from these samples. As the mapping and sequencing technologies have gotten more sensitive, they are less tolerant of any impurities in the DNA used. We have found that the pigment in the skin and hair clouds the DNA and often can be very difficult to eliminate so that we can get pure, clean DNA. We’ve tried removing the skin and hair, using just the muscle on the tail, but it’s a long and somewhat difficult process, with minimal yield at the end. So we really are not encouraging banking tails any longer. Although it’s more challenging for the breeder, we really recommend getting blood samples later, when the pups are big enough to draw useful samples.
Can frozen semen be submitted?
We can extract DNA from frozen semen, but the yield is not great and most people would rather use the semen to make puppies than to make DNA. We really recommend that people bank DNA by blood sample whenever they have frozen semen stored on a stud dog, so that they have DNA available for whatever DNA tests may become available in the future e, perhaps long after the dog himself is gone. It’s much better to use stored DNA than have to decide to sacrifice a breeding unit to get DNA later.<strong<>/strong>
Can cheek swabs and FTA cards be submitted?
On the positive side, the sample is easy to collect and inexpensive to ship. However, the amount of DNA available is quite limited. This is useful for DNA testing, where a mutation is known and we only need to run one or two tests. It is not practical or useful for research purposes if we need to do mapping studies or sequencing – the resulting DNA is not of sufficient quantity or quality for those applications.<strong<>/strong>
Can organ tissue or muscle (frozen) be used?
A small tube (2cm) of tissue can yield a mountain of DNA, so this is a useful sample to have as a backup for a blood sample, especially when a dog is deceased but is currently included or likely to be included in research studies. If the dog is deceased, there is no way to get more DNA later so banking some tissue is a wise idea. When necropsies are done, spleen is very cell rich but liver or kidney are also quite good. If no necropsy is done, or the organ tissue appears compromised (due to disease or other factor), muscle is a good DNA source as well. A small piece of tongue is relatively easy to collect and does not disfigure the dog if the owner has a concern about that. The DNA extraction process is more involved, however, than blood samples, but does yield high amounts of high quality DNA.<strong<>/strong>
Can stored DNA be used for genetic testing?
Stored DNA required for genetic testing can be requested from the DNA bank. Such tests now available for the Springer include PRA, PFK, fucocydosis and degenerative myelopathy. Stored DNA can be used for all genetic tests required to obtain a CHIC number. Stored DNA can also be used to register an AKC DNA identification for your Springer.<strong<>/strong>
What is the cost for putting my dog’s sample in the DNA Bank?
The University of Missouri is charging the Foundation $10.00 per dog for processing the samples and for storage in perpetuity. Those submitting samples should include a check made out to the University of Missouri for this amount. The dog’s owner is responsible for veterinary charges and the cost of shipping the sample to Columbia, Missouri.<strong<>/strong>
Where should the sample be sent?
Samples should be shipped to Liz Hansen, DNA Bank and Project Coordinator, 209A Connaway Hall, University of Missouri, Columbia, MO 65211. Ms. Hansen can be contacted for any questions you may have for for further information you may require. She may be contacted at HansenL@missouri.edu or at 573-884-3712.<strong<>/strong>
What paperwork will be required?
At the present time a short health form (link above), a pedigree, preferably five generations, your name and address sent to Dr. Gary Johnson, c/o Liz Hansen at the address above, along with your $10.00 fee. The health form is a form in process and will change through the years. From time to time, Dr. Johnson’s staff may contact you to provide additional information. An on-line health update form is being developed. If the dog develops a desease, or if testing such as CERF, OFA, etc. is done, or if there are any changes in the dog’s status, you should notify Dr. Johnson’s lab to update the records. The dog’s AKC, CKC or other registration information along with the dog’s registered name is required. For litters of puppies, the identification you are using for each pub can be sent in with the blood sample. When the puppies have new owners, registration numbers and registered names, send an update to Dr. Johnson’s lab.<strong<>/strong>
Won’t drawing 10cc’s of blood at a show, match or trial hurt my dog’s performance?
Ten cc’s of blood is a little less than two teaspoons. Compared to the total volume of a dog’s blood, this is not very much and should not impact a dog’s performance.
I want to contribute to both the DNA Bank and the Epilepsy Study. Do I have to send in two samples?
No, only one. Since Dr. Johnson is also collecting DNA for the epilepsy study, two samples will not be required. Simply indicate on the health questionnaire that you want your sample to be included in the epilepsy study.
What about confidentiality?
Only Dr. Johnson’s staff will know the identities of individual samples. No one else will have access to the identities of the DNA of any individual dog.
If my club (or I) wishes to organize a blood draw for the DNA Bank, how should we do this?
Contact Liz Hansen, University of Missouri DNA Bank and Project Coordinator, who will send you copies of the necessary forms to be filled out. She will also give you the proper blood drawing procedures, labeling and shipping instructions for the blood samples, and other necessary information. Liz can be reached by e-mail at HansenL@missouri.edu. The ESSFTA Foundation will partially subsidize the expenses of an organized blood draw. The Foundation will, following the event, help with expenses to the extent of $2.00/dog.
What will be the charge for withdrawing a part of the sample that I own from the Bank?
Dr. Johnson’s staff will be able to send a portion of the DNA you donated to a laboratory you designate for genetic testing for a specific disease. There is a preparation charge for Dr. Johnson’s staff to prepare samples for shipment to other labs. You would also be responsible for the cost of shipping. If you request a portion of the DNA from your dog for a genetic test, it will probably cost you less than $10.00 plus shipping charges.
Since the sample placed in the DNA Bank represents a donation to the ESSFTA Foundation, can I get a deduction from my Federal Income Tax?
Since you will have access to ten percent of the DNA sample for your own purposes, ninety percent of the $10.00 processing and storage fee, your veterinarian and shipping charges should be deductible for Federal Income Tax purposes as a charitable donation to the ESSFTA Foundation.
Who can I contact if I have additional questions?
You may contact Dr. Johnson’s DNA Bank and Project Coordinator, Liz Hansen at HansenL@missouri.edu, phone 573-884-3712, or write to her at 209A Connaway Hall, University of Missouri, Columbia, MO 65211.