Agouti sequence polymorphism in coyotes and specific sequence differences from wolves and dogs

Authors: S.M. Schmutz, T.G. Berryere, J.L. Barta, K.D. Reddick and J.K. Schmutz
Journal: Journal of Heredity, doi:10.1093/jhered/esm036

Domestic dogs have been shown to have multiple alleles of the Agouti Signal Peptide (ASIP) in exon 4 and we wished to determine the level of polymorphism in the common wild canids of Canada, wolves and coyotes, in comparison. All Canadian coyotes and most wolves have banded hairs. The ASIP coding sequence of the wolf did not vary from the domestic dog but one variant was detected in exon 4 of coyotes that did not alter the arginine at this position. Two other differences were found in the sequence flanking exon 4 of coyotes compared with the 45 dogs and 1 wolf. The coyotes also demonstrated a relatively common polymorphism in the 3′ UTR sequence that could be used for population studies. One of the ASIP alleles (R96C) in domestic dogs causes a solid black coat color in homozygotes. Although some wolves are melanistic, this phenotype does not appear to be caused by this same mutation. However, one wolf, potentially a dog–wolf hybrid or descendant thereof, was heterozygous for this allele. Likewise 2 coyotes, potentially dog–coyote or wolf–coyote hybrid descendants, were heterozygous for the several polymorphisms in and flanking exon 4. We could conclude that these were coyote–dog hybrids because both were heterozygous for 2 mutations causing fawn coat color in dogs.

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