Structure and sequence variation of the canine perforin gene

M. Neta, X. Wen, Peter F Moore, D. Bienzle

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Lymphocyte-mediated cytotoxicity is essential to control viral infections, limit lymphocyte expansion and activation, and survey for malignant cells. Humans with defects in lymphocyte cytotoxicity have reduced perforin function resulting in uncontrolled lymphocyte expansion, leading to excessive histiocyte activation and a hemophagocytic disorder. Dog breeds such as Bernese mountain dogs (BMD) have a high incidence of reactive and malignant diseases affecting histiocytes. This study addressed the hypothesis that changes in the perforin gene contribute to the development of hemophagocytic histiocytic sarcoma (HHS) in BMD. Canine perforin DNA was amplified and sequenced through multiple PCR assays from healthy and diseased dogs, and the gene structure determined by rapid amplification of cDNA ends. The coding component of the gene consists of 1679 bp, with two exons of 536 bp and 1143 bp separated by an intron of 865 bp. Gene configuration and location differ from that in other species although the coding sequence is highly conserved. Three silent single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNP) were identified. Analysis of their distribution indicated a consistent genotype among 6 middle-aged to older BMD without histiocytic diseases. Among samples from 10 dogs with HHS and 10 without histiocytic diseases SNP occurred with variable frequency. It was concluded that changes in the amino acid sequence of perforin were not associated with HHS but that a constellation of SNP may characterize BMD without histiocytic disease. Investigation of more dogs is required to confirm a specific genotype. Future studies should focus on the potential contribution of reduced perforin expression and/or function to HHS in dogs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)314-320
Number of pages7
JournalVeterinary Immunology and Immunopathology
Issue number2-4
StatePublished - Feb 15 2010


  • Apoptosis
  • Bernese mountain dog
  • Cytotoxic lymphocyte
  • Granzyme
  • Natural killer cell
  • Single nucleotide polymorphism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology
  • veterinary(all)


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