Diabetes mellitus, a common endocrinopathy affecting domestic cats, shares many clinical and pathologic features with type 2 diabetes in humans. In Australia and Europe, diabetes mellitus is almost four times more common among Burmese cats than in other breeds. As a genetically isolated population, the diabetic Australian Burmese cat provides a spontaneous genetic model for studying diabetes mellitus in humans. Studying complex diseases in pedigreed breeds facilitates tighter control of confounding factors including population stratification, allelic frequencies and environmental heterogeneity. We used the feline SNV array and whole genome sequence data to undertake a genome wide-association study and runs of homozygosity analysis, of a case–control cohort of Australian and European Burmese cats. Our results identified diabetes-associated haplotypes across chromosomes A3, B1 and E1 and selective sweeps across the Burmese breed on chromosomes B1, B3, D1 and D4. The locus on chromosome B1, common to both analyses, revealed coding and splice region variants in candidate genes, ANK1, EPHX2 and LOX2, implicated in diabetes mellitus and lipid dysregulation. Mapping this condition in Burmese cats has revealed a polygenic spectrum, implicating loci linked to pancreatic beta cell dysfunction, lipid dysregulation and insulin resistance in the pathogenesis of diabetes mellitus in the Burmese cat.
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