Canine DVL2 variant contributes to brachycephalic phenotype and caudal vertebral anomalies

Julia E. Niskanen, Vilma Reunanen, Milla Salonen, Danika Bannasch, Anu K. Lappalainen, Hannes Lohi, Marjo K. Hytönen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


A frameshift deletion variant in the Wnt pathway gene dishevelled 2 (DVL2) is associated with a truncated, kinked tail (“screw tail”) in English Bulldogs, French Bulldogs and Boston Terriers. These breeds are also characterized by distinctive morphological traits, including a wide head, flat face and short-limbed dwarfism, which are characteristic of Robinow syndrome in humans, caused by defects in genes such as DVL1 and DVL3. Based on these phenotypic and genetic similarities, it has previously been hypothesized that the canine DVL2 variant results in a syndromic phenotype called the Robinow-like syndrome. In our study, we investigated the distribution of the DVL2 variant in 1954 dogs from 15 breeds, identifying breeds with allele variation and enabling the dissection of the genotype–phenotype correlation for the first time. With CT examinations in American Staffordshire Terriers, we confirmed that the DVL2 allele is associated with caudal vertebral malformations and a brachycephalic phenotype. We also hypothesize that the variant may be linked to additional health conditions, including brachycephalic obstructive airway syndrome and congenital heart defects. Altogether, our study strengthens the role of DVL2 as one of the contributors to the “bulldog type” morphology and features on the spectrum of human Robinow syndrome.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalHuman Genetics
StateAccepted/In press - 2021
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics
  • Genetics(clinical)


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