Stiftung Tierärztliche Hochschule Hannover (TiHo)TiHo eLib

De novo ZIC2 frameshift variant associated with frontonasal dysplasia in a Limousin calf


Bovine frontonasal dysplasias like arhinencephaly, synophthalmia, cyclopia and anophthalmia are sporadic congenital facial malformations. In this study, computed tomography, necropsy, histopathological examinations and whole genome sequencing on an Illumina NextSeq500 were performed to characterize a stillborn Limousin calf with frontonasal dysplasia. In order to identify private genetic and structural variants, we screened whole genome sequencing data of the affected calf and unaffected relatives including parents, a maternal and paternal halfsibling.


The stillborn calf exhibited severe craniofacial malformations. Nose and maxilla were absent, mandibles were upwardly curved and a median cleft palate was evident. Eyes, optic nerve and orbital cavities were not developed and the rudimentary orbita showed hypotelorism. A defect centrally in the front skull covered with a membrane extended into the intracranial cavity. Aprosencephaly affected telencephalic and diencephalic structures and cerebellum. In addition, a shortened tail was seen. Filtering whole genome sequencing data revealed a private frameshift variant within the candidate gene ZIC2 in the affected calf. This variant was heterozygous mutant in this case and homozygous wild type in parents, half-siblings and controls.


We found a novel ZIC2 frameshift mutation in an aprosencephalic Limousin calf. The origin of this variant is most likely due to a de novo mutation in the germline of one parent or during very early embryonic development. To the authors' best knowledge, this is the first identified mutation in cattle associated with bovine frontonasal dysplasia.


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