November 25, 2018

Amylase activity is associated with AMY2B copy numbers in dog: implications for dog domestication, diet and diabetes

A study about whether the number of copies of the AMY2B gene in Samoyeds and other breeds is related to the breed’s susceptibility of diabetes mellitus

Amylase is an enzyme, in both dogs and humans, that allows for the digestion of carbohydrates. In dogs, a “high amylase activity is associated” with an increase in the number of copies of AMY2B present (Arendt et al., 2014); the appearance of multiple copies of this gene during domestication is thought to be why dogs can digest carbohydrates better than wolves. The number of copies of AMY2B in the genetic code of dogs differs between breeds. The purpose of this study was to determine whether there is a correlation between more copies of the gene in a breed and higher amylase activity and number of copy genes and an increased risk of diabetes mellitus.

 

Researchers obtained DNA samples from 35 breeds and, when comparing it to that of wolves, found that amylase activity, like the number of copy genes, differed between breeds and that dogs with more copies of the gene had a higher amylase activity.

 

Since some breeds are more genetically predisposed to have the disease, this study also investigates whether the number of copies of the AMY2B gene can causes a higher rate of incidence of diabetes mellitus. Although every dog’s number of copy genes varies, approximately 70 percent of the number of copy genes is “attributed to breed” (Arendt et al., 2014). Samoyeds are ranked as the second most likely breed to develop diabetes mellitus; however, their DNA contained much fewer copies of the AMY2B gene than other breeds. This suggests that there is no correlation between risk of developing diabetes mellitus and the number of copy genes.

 

Arendt M, Fall T, Lindblad-Toh K, Axelsson E. Amylase activity is associated with AMY2B copy numbers in dog: implications for dog domestication, diet and diabetes. Anim Genet. 2014;45(5):716–22.

 
 
Reviewed by: Aida Zyba, 11/25/18