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A loss-of-function mutation in RORB disrupts saltatorial locomotion in rabbits
M. Carneiro, J. Vieillard, P. Andrade, S. Boucher, S. Afonso, J. A. Blanco-Aguiar, N. Santos, J. Branco, P. J. Esteves, N. Ferrand, K. Kullander, L. Andersson
Saltatorial locomotion is a type of hopping gait that in mammals can be found in rabbits, hares, kangaroos, and some species of rodents. The molecular mechanisms that control and fine-tune the formation of this type of gait are unknown. Here, we take advantage of one strain of domesticated rabbits, the sauteur d’Alfort, that exhibits an abnormal locomotion behavior defined by the loss of the typical jumping that characterizes wild-type rabbits. Strikingly, individuals from this strain frequently adopt a bipedal gait using their front legs. Using a combination of experimental crosses and whole genome sequencing, we show that a single locus containing the RAR related orphan receptor B gene (RORB) explains the atypical gait of these rabbits. We found that a splice-site mutation in an evolutionary conserved site of RORB results in several aberrant transcript isoforms incorporating intronic sequence. This mutation leads to a drastic reduction of RORB-positive neurons in the spinal cord, as well as defects in differentiation of populations of spinal cord interneurons. Our results show that RORB function is required for the performance of saltatorial locomotion in rabbits.
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Document Information
Publish date: March 2021
Edition: PLoS Genetics