Variation of BMP3 Contributes to Dog Breed Skull
Jeffrey J. Schoenebeck1, Sarah A. Hutchinson2, Alexandra Byers1, Holly C. Beale1, Blake Carrington3,
Daniel L. Faden1, Maud Rimbault1, Brennan Decker1, Jeffrey M. Kidd4, Raman Sood3, Adam R. Boyko5,
John W. Fondon III6, Robert K. Wayne7, Carlos D. Bustamante4, Brian Ciruna2,8, Elaine A. Ostrander1*
1Cancer Genetics Branch, National Human Genome Research Institute, Bethesda, Maryland, United States of America, 2Program in Developmental and Stem Cell Biology,
The Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, 3Zebrafish Core, National Human Genome Research Institute, Bethesda, Maryland, United States of America,
4Department of Genetics, Stanford School of Medicine, Stanford, California, United States of America, 5Department of Biomedical Sciences, Cornell University College of
Veterinary Medicine, Ithaca, New York, United States of America, 6Department of Biology, University of Texas at Arlington, Arlington, Texas, United States of America,
7Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of California Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California, United States of America, 8Department of Molecular
Genetics, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Since the beginnings of domestication, the craniofacial architecture of the domestic dog has morphed and radiated to
human whims. By beginning to define the genetic underpinnings of breed skull shapes, we can elucidate mechanisms of
morphological diversification while presenting a framework for understanding human cephalic disorders. Using intrabreed
association mapping with museum specimen measurements, we show that skull shape is regulated by at least five
quantitative trait loci (QTLs). Our detailed analysis using whole-genome sequencing uncovers a missense mutation in BMP3.
Validation studies in zebrafish show that Bmp3 function in cranial development is ancient. Our study reveals the causal
variant for a canine QTL contributing to a major morphologic trait.
Citation: Schoenebeck JJ, Hutchinson SA, Byers A, Beale HC, Carrington B, et al. (2012) Variation of BMP3 Contributes to Dog Breed Skull Diversity. PLoS
Genet 8(8): e1002849. doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.1002849
Editor: Tosso Leeb, University of Bern, Switzerland
Received February 28, 2012; Accepted June 6, 2012; Published August 2, 2012
This is an open-access article, free of all copyright, and may be freely reproduced, distributed, transmitted, modified, built upon, or otherwise used by anyone for
any lawful purpose. The work is made available under the Creative Commons CC0 public domain dedication.
Funding: JJS was funded by an NIGMS PRAT postdoctoral fellowship. DLF and BD were supported by HHMI. This work was supported by funding from the
Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (BC) and the Intramural Program of the National Human Genome Research Institute (EAO, JJS, AB,
HCB, and MR). The authors gratefully acknowledge grants NSF (DEB) 1021397 and 0733033 (RKW), and NSF (DEB) 0948510 (ARB, CDB). The funders had no role in
study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.
Competing Interests: The authors have declared that no competing interests exist.
* E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Canine skull shape variation among dog breeds is in large part a
human-created phenomenon, occurring through artificial selection
and consolidation of desired traits. Morphological distinction
between wolves and dogs dates as far back as 31,000 years ago
[1,2]. Changes in skull shape are a key feature of dog
domestication, foreshadowing the wide variety of shapes displayed
by modern dog breeds.
Skull shapes differ tremendously from one another, so much so
that such differences are breed-defining. Two such skull shapes are
brachycephaly (‘‘shortened head’’, e.g. Bulldog, Pug, Boxer) and
dolichocephaly (‘‘elongated head’’, e.g. Greyhound, Saluki,
Collie), which are named after their resemblance to human
cephalic disorders. Although canine cranial shape is subject to
multigenic control [3–5], the molecular underpinnings of this
variation remain poorly defined. Candidate gene studies failed to
uncover compelling causal variants of canine brachycephaly [6–8].
Airorhynchy (dorsal bending of the snout; a feature common to
brachycephalic breeds) and midface length was previously
correlated with polyglutamine and polyalanine repeat length of
the transcription factor RUNX2 . More recently, genome wide
association scans (GWAS) and homozygosity mapping have
converged on chromosome 1 (CFA1) as a locus that is highly
associated with brachycephaly, implicating a 296 kb haplotype
that spans THSB2 and intergenic sequence proximal to SMOC2
Here we present data indicating that at least five genetic loci are
responsible for the cranioskeletal differences that differentiate
dolichocephalic and brachycephalic dog breeds. Our conclusions
are based on a GWAS that coupled craniometric breed-sex
averages collected from 533 modern specimens from museum and
private collections with the genetic profiles of 576 purebred dogs
(62 breeds) assayed via single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP)
chips. To identify candidates of phenotype causality, we filtered
genetic variants derived from whole genome sequencing of eleven
different breeds. This led to discovery of a compelling candidate
for causality at the CFA32 QTL: a derived missense mutation in
BMP3 that is nearly fixed among small, brachycephalic dog
breeds. To evaluate the functional potential of this variant in vivo,
we turned to zebrafish. We show that Bmp3 is indispensable for
normal craniofacial development in zebrafish, and comparison of
missexpression assays using BMP3 and its canine variant suggests
enhanced activity in the latter. Together, our data reveal for the
first time the molecular underpinnings of a quantitative trait,
selected by dog fanciers to modulate a prominent morphological
trait in domestic dogs.
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To capture the three-dimensional morphological complexities
present among modern dogs, we digitized 51 stereotyped
landmarks from 533 skulls representing 120 breeds and four gray
wolf subspecies (Figure 1A–1D, Figure S1A–S1E, Tables S1 and
S2). As most skulls used in our study originated from museums, we
selected only those specimens with unambiguous breed designa-
tions, sex status, and recent time of death (within the past 40 years)
for use in this study. Using MorphoJ software , we identified
four principal components that accounted for nearly 75.5%
of shape variance, with the majority of variance explained by
the first component (PC1=59.4%, PC2=8.2%, PC3=4.2%,
PC4=3.8%). PC1 describes profound changes in rostrum length
and angle, palate and zygomatic arch width, and depth of the
neurocranium: essentially the continuum of cranioskeletal features
that extend between dolichocephalic and brachycephalic breeds
(Figure 1E, 1F).
Since purebred dogs must conform to specific morphological
standards , morphological traits like skull shape became highly
uniform by breed, permitting association studies using one set of
samples for genotyping and others for phenotyping. This strategy
of using breed stereotypes has proven successful in mapping a
number of canine morphologic traits by independent groups
[3,13,14]. Using breed allele frequencies collected by the CanMap
project , we conducted genome-wide scans of QTLs associated
with breed-sex averages for PC1 (1–10 specimen(s)/breed/sex,
mean n=3, Table S3).
Initially, we scanned for PC1 associations using an additive
linear regression model (Figure S2A, Table S4) . Size
correction in the regression suggested potential confounders
(compare Figure S2A and S2B) on CFA10 and 15, which were
previously associated with body size [3,13,14,16]. As expected,
addition of log(neurocranium centroid) breed-sex values as a
covariate removed those associations (Figure S2B, see Materials
and Methods for more details).
False associations derived from breed relatedness were excluded
using GEMMA . Discounting associations on CFA10 and 15,
we identified six PC1-associated regions of interest indicated by
SNPs at CFA1.59832965, CFA5.32359028, CFA24.26359293,
(2log10(P)=6.13–17.9, Figure 2A, Table S4). Of note, a suggestive
association on CFAX was also observed, marked by SNP
CFAX.104724717. Including a neurocranium centroid size
covariate in the mixed-model removed associations at CFA10
and 15, as well as those on CFA30, 32, and X.44401786 and
enhanced the association on CFAX.104724717 to significance
(Figure 2B, Table S4). Since nearly all extreme brachycephalic
breeds used in our study are also small breeds, and therefore
substantially related to small, non-brachycephalic breeds, we
reasoned that use of a size covariate in the mixed-model was
overcorrecting associations that could be driven by diminutive
breeds [3,18,19]. To reduce the contrast in relatedness among our
study population, we reran the mixed-model using only breeds
with a log(neurocranium centroid) below the 50thpercentile. This
resulted in recovery of the CFA32 QTL, as well as new
CFA13.26492600. Although the association on CFA30 remained
below threshold for statistical significance, its association markedly
improved (Figure 2C). When brachycephalic breeds were removed
from the mixed-model, all aforementioned markers dropped below
significance except for CFA5.36476657 (Figure 2D). Summarizing
these findings, QTLs on CFA1, 5, 24, 32, and X (X:104724717)
account for skull shape changes that occur along the continuum of
canine brachycephaly-dolichocephaly. Additional associations
reside on CFA9, CFA13, CFA30, and CFAX (X: 44401786),
though their instability across mixed-model scans suggest they are
either allometric in nature, driven by variation that is marginally
represented by the breed composition present in our GWAS, or
possibly false positives (Figure 2A–2D, Table S4).
Because shape variation is the result of artificial selection, we
expected critical loci to be marked by reduction of observed
heterozygosity (Ho) and elevated genetic differentiation (FST),
hallmarks of selective sweeps [20,21]. Among autosomes, QTLs
on CFA1, 5, 30, and 32 displayed particularly strong reductions in
HO among brachycephalic breeds, relative to dolichocephalic
breeds (HR, see Materials and Methods). Sliding HR windows
corresponding to these QTLs placed with the smallest ,0.2% of
the distribution. Among sliding window FSTaverages, windows
corresponding to CFA1, 5, 24, 30, and 32 placed within the top
99.6% of the distribution (Figure 2E–2F, Figure S3A–S3I, and
We focused on the CFA32 QTL because it was the second most
highly associated, non-allometric locus in our initial analysis
(Figure S2A), it showed compelling evidence of selection, and
unlike the CFA1 QTL, it was previously unexplored .
Haplotype sharing at this locus among six of the seven extreme
brachycephalic breeds, including the French Bulldog, Bulldog,
Boston Terrier, Pekingese, Pug, and Brussels Griffon defined a
critical interval spanning 190 kb (8,152,258–8,342,370, Table S6).
Although this region included just two genes, both were excellent
candidates: cGMP-dependent protein kinase 2 (PRKG2) and bone
morphogenetic protein 3 (BMP3) [22–27].
To identify variants within the critical interval, we used whole-
genome sequence analysis from eleven dog breeds of widely
varying skull shapes (unpublished data). Notably, brachycephalic
breeds including a Pekingese and a Bulldog were among the
eleven, enabling the evaluation of phenotype association with
genotype at nearly every position. Initial examination of variant
calls in the 190 kb critical interval revealed over 2,000 polymor-
phisms (Table S7). Of particular interest, allelic differences
between the Bulldog and Pekingese extended downstream of
8,237,936, suggesting a recombination breakpoint in the Peking-
ese. Confirmation of this breakpoint among 25 additional
Pekingese reduced the critical interval to 85 kb (8,152,258–
8,237,937 kb) (Figure 3A, Table S8).
Within the 85 kb interval, 48 variants that met one or more
standard criteria were retained for further evaluation (Figure 3B).
Only one variant remained a compelling candidate for causality: a
SNP at 8,196,098 that encodes a missense mutation in BMP3,
As a result of selective breeding practices, modern dogs
display a multitude of head shapes. Breeds such as the Pug
and Bulldog popularize one of these morphologies,
termed ‘‘brachycephaly.’’ A short, upward-pointing snout,
a massive and rounded head, and an underbite typify
brachycephalic breeds. Here, we have coupled the
phenotypes collected from museum skulls with the
genotypes collected from dogs and identified five regions
of the dog genome that are associated with canine
brachycephaly. Fine mapping at one of these regions
revealed a causal mutation in the gene BMP3. Bmp3’s role
in regulating cranial development is evolutionarily ancient,
as zebrafish require its function to generate a normal
craniofacial morphology. Our data begin to expose the
genetic mechanisms unknowingly employed by breeders
to create and diversify the cranial shape of dogs.
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Figure 1. Quantitative and qualitative assessments of PC1 on canine cranioskeletal shape. (A) Gray wolf (mesocephalic, ancestor to dogs)
(B) Afghan hound (dolichocephalic), (C) Leonberger (mesocephalic), (D) Pug (brachycephalic). (E) Boxplots of PC1 (corresponding breed names are
listed in Table S2). (F) Surface scans of a gray wolf skull illustrate morphological changes associated with PC1. Columns (left to right) are dorsal, lateral,
BMP3 Variation Influences Dog Skull Shape
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changing a phenylalanine to a leucine (BMP3F452Lor F452L). The
Protein Specific Scoring Matrix (PSSM) for TGF-b superfamily
members indicates that position 452 is nearly invariably occupied
by an aromatic amino acid such as tyrosine or phenylalanine
(PSSM raw frequency=0.84) and PolyPhen-2 substitution mod-
eling predicted that the F452L substitution is likely damaging
(HumDiv=1.0, HumVar=0.97) . Moreover, F452 flanks
highly conserved residues predicted to reside at the receptor-ligand
interface . Finally, expanded genotyping among 842 dogs
from 113 breeds revealed that the BMP3F452Lmutation is nearly
fixed among extreme brachycephalic breeds. Furthermore, the
PC1 scores of most carrier breeds fall between wolves (ancestral)
and extreme brachycephalic breeds (Table S9).
BMP3’s role in cranioskeletal development is enigmatic in terms
of molecular interactions and function. BMP3 antagonizes other
BMPs and Activins through binding the ActRIIb receptor, and in
vivo, BMP3 appears to restrict bone growth [23,30,31]. However,
the absence of a knockout mouse craniofacial phenotype suggested
that BMP3 function might be subtle, dispensable, or divergent to
other mammals. We therefore assayed BMP3 function using the
zebrafish model. Based on peptide similarity and synteny to
CFA32 (96.4% identical within mature protein, 60.5% overall),
the BMP3 ortholog was identified on zebrafish chromosome 5.
Endogenous expression of zebrafish bmp3 is highly dynamic, first
appearing during mid-somitogenesis as ubiquitous expression
throughout the head, brain ventricles, and as was shown
previously, the posterior somites (data not shown) . After
48 hours post fertilization (hpf), bmp3 expression emerges in
pectoral fins, the pharyngeal arch region, heart, and jaw structures
(Figure 4A–4D, data not shown). Prechondrogenic expression of
bmp3 among cranial structures suggests a role for Bmp3 in
cranioskeletal development. To formally test this hypothesis, we
knocked down endogenous Bmp3 activity via injection of
translation-blocking antisense morpholino oligonucleotides (MO).
Strikingly, MO-injected embryos demonstrated severe deficiencies
in jaw development (Figure 4E, 4H, 4K). Alcian blue staining
revealed loss or hypoplasia of multiple cartilage elements that form
the viscerocranium and neurocranium (Figure 4F, 4G, 4I, 4J, 4L,
4M). Cartilage defects are specific to loss of Bmp3 activity since
injection of two non-overlapping MOs produced identical
craniofacial phenotypes, as did co-injection of both MOs at
concentrations insufficient to cause phenotypes when injected
alone (data not shown). These results indicate that Bmp3 is
required for zebrafish craniofacial development, and indicate that
Bmp3’s role in craniofacial development is ancient. Furthermore,
overexpression assays using BMP3, as well as other TGFbs,
indicate that variation at the F452L residue has context-dependent
effects on these molecules’ activities (Figures S4, S5).
Distortion of the skull, as observed among brachycephalic and
dolichocephalic dog breeds, affects bones presumably derived
from endochondral and intramembraneous ossification. We show
that the genetic basis of this distortion is complex, relying on the
contributions of at least five QTLs. We propose that the
BMP3F452Lvariant was selected by dog fanciers for its influence
on skull shape, but the specific aspects of cranioskeletal develop-
ment that the F452L variant affects within the brachycephalic skull
Previous studies, as well as ours, indicate that the CFA1 QTL is
highly associated with canine brachycephaly and is robust to size-
stratified GWAS (Figure 2A and 2C, data not shown), suggesting
that the underlying causal variant at this locus is shared by both
large and small brachycephalic breeds [3,9]. Homozygosity
mapping also implicated selective sweeps on CFA1, as well as
CFA26, among Boxers, French Bulldogs, and Bulldogs .
Despite different morphometric approaches, skulls specimens, and
utilization of CanMap genotypes profiles, our QTLs overlap with
those reported by Boyko et al. for snout length (CFA1, 5, 32, X),
cranial vault depth (CFAX), palate width (CFA30), and zygomatic
arch width (CFA24) . The associations that we report on CFA9
and 13 were revealed following size-stratified scans, raising caution
regarding the implementation of mixed-model scans among
domesticated populations whose traits and relatedness are difficult
to disentangle. Notably, a snout ratio QTL on CFA9 was
previously reported by Jones et al. in a study that also used breed
stereotypes as phenotypes; our data independently replicates their
We chose the zebrafish model to validate our GWAS results
based on its rapid development, gene conservation, and flexibility
for rapidly knocking down and overexpressing gene products of
interest. Though loss-of-function using zebrafish indicates an
ancient role for Bmp3 during craniofacial development, ontoge-
netic differences between teleost and amniote cranial development
limit the extent to which specific phenotypic features can be
recapitulated in both zebrafish and dogs.
Bmp32/2mice described by Daluiski et al. have excessive
trabeculation of the long bones, but defects in the cranial bones
were not reported . Interestingly, when authors of this study
moved the Bmp3 null allele to an inbred background, Bmp32/2
mutants died perinatally due to lung defects. A preliminary
craniofacial analysis of E18.5 embryos suggests that a number of
morphogenesis defects occur in the mutants (unpublished data, JJS
and KLM; personal communication with KLM). In dogs, the
BMP3 mutation is but one of at least five QTLs that modulate
canine skull shape variation. Thus, it is possible that genetic
interactions with other QTLs enhance or act permissively to
BMP3F452L’s effects on cranioskeletal development.
Microdeletions that include or flank BMP3 are described in
humans . Although craniofacial abnormalities associated with
these microdeletions were attributed to loss of PRKG2, our results
suggest that haploinsufficiency for BMP3 might also contribute to
the clinical features of 4q21 syndrome. Furthermore, isolated
BMP3 dysfunction could be the basis of human cephalic
conditions whose genetic etiologies remain unknown.
The development of modern dog breeds is one of the most
extensive genetic experiments ever conducted. Their existence
allows us to exploit breed-average phenotypes for genetic analysis.
In the past, the extensive linkage disequilibrium inherent to
artificial selection often hindered the process of fine mapping
causal variants in the dog . We overcame this limitation using
whole-genome sequencing to comprehensively evaluate candidate
variants. Combining the resulting insights with the functional
utility of zebrafish, we identified a causal mutation underlying a
quantitative trait in the dog. Together these approaches have
and rostral views. Top row: a gray wolf skull morphed by positive PC1. Middle row: a gray wolf skull (no morphing). Bottom row: a gray wolf skull
morphed by negative PC1. Pseudocoloring of the gray wolf skull indicates rostrum (ros) and neurocranium (nc). Line indicates width of the zygomatic
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allowed us to extend the paradigm of leveraging breed-average
phenotypes to include the identification of causal mutations. We
can now work towards assembling the full inventory of genes
associated with vertebrate cranioskeletal shape, in turn illuminat-
ing evolutionarily conserved mechanisms of cranioskeletal devel-
opment in our own species.
Materials and Methods
Morphometrics and CanMap phenotype assignments
Fifty-one measurements were captured using an Immersion
MicroScribe Digitizer G2X running Microscribe Utility Software
and Diagnostics (v184.108.40.206). In total, 533 canid skulls representative
of 120 breeds and 4 gray wolf subspecies located in museums and
private collections were documented. Dorsal and ventral landmark
datasets were captured separately and merged based on landmarks
in common between datasets (landmarks 1, 2, 28, and 29) using
File Converter software (Klingenberg lab). Procrustes fit, PCA,
and residuals were generated using MorphoJ . Residuals of
nonallometric shape were calculated as implemented in MorphoJ
(v1.03a) using linear regression (pooled by sex and breed), with
symmetric component and log(neurocranium centroid) corre-
sponding to dependent and independent variables, respectively.
Ten thousand permutations were performed. Refer to Figure S1 to
see landmarks used by MorphoJ to calculate neurocranium
A covariance matrix based on residuals was analyzed by PCA.
GWAS was performed using a subset of the CanMap dataset of
genotypes . In total, 72 breed-sex averages of PC1 were
assigned to CanMap breeds. In 30 instances, only one skull per
breed-sex was measured. In such cases, the actual PC1 score was
used for CanMap phenotype assignments. Log(neurocranium
centroid) values were similarly assigned and used in subsequent
analyses as a size covariate for PLINK and GEMMA association
analyses (see next section).
Skull surface scans (1 Pug, 1 gray wolf) were done by Konica
Minolta (3D Sensing Labs, Ramsey, NJ). Decimated scans were
loaded into Landmark Editor (v3.6) . Skull morphing was
done using PC1 landmark coordinates exported from MorphoJ.
Coordinate files used for morphing were generated from
representatives of dolichocephalic and brachycephalic breeds (a
Collie and Pug).
Base pair positions stated throughout refer to CanFam2 (Broad/
May 2005) coordinates. Single marker and haplotype association
analyses were done using PLINK (v1.07)  or mixed model
GEMMA (v0.91)  where specified. CanMap markers used in
the analysis included SNPs with missingness ,0.10 and minor
allele frequency .0.01. In the full dataset (all breeds with breed-
sex PC1 averages), 61,270 SNPs were analyzed by PLINK from
576 dogs representing 62 American Kennel Club-recognized
breeds. In the mixed-model, ,36,685 SNPs were analyzed. Breeds
used in size-stratified analyses are listed in Table S2. Significantly
associated SNPs surpassed Bonferroni correction at the 0.05 level
(2log10(P).=5.86). HO was calculated by treating CanMap
breeds at the polar extremes of PC1 as two comparisons
populations (Pug, Pekingese, Boston Terrier, Shih Tzu, Brussels
Griffon, French Bulldog, Bulldog, Boxer, Cavalier King Charles
Spaniel, Chihuahua versus Collie, Borzoi, Saluki, Scottish
Deerhound, Bloodhound, Greyhound, Scottish Terrier, Dober-
man Pinscher, and Irish Wolfhound). FSTwas calculated treating
brachycephalic breeds (listed above) as a single subpopulation. HO,
HR(the ratio of dolicho- and brachycephalic HO), and FSTvalues
were calculated using custom R scripts. fastPHASE was used to
generate haplotype frequencies by breed, using CanMap geno-
types using the clustering parameter k=15 . ‘‘Extreme
brachycephalic breeds’’ were designated as such if both PC1
breed-sex averages exceeded 0.15. This cutoff was chosen based
on the obvious jump in magnitude of PC1 values (see Figure 1E,
Figure S6). Breeds that meet this classification include the Pug,
Pekingese, Boston Terrier, French Bulldog, Bulldog, Brussels
Griffon, and Shih Tzu.
Sample collection, Sanger sequencing, and genotyping
DNA used in our study was extracted from blood samples as
previously described . In addition to whole-genome sequenc-
ing (see below), BMP3 and PRKG2 were Sanger sequenced using
six brachycephalic and six dolichocephalic breeds (data not
shown). The BMP3 8,196,098 C/A transversion was sequenced
in an expanded panel composed of 847 dogs from 113 breeds.
Primers were designed with a melting temperature (Tm) ranging
between 68–72uC, GC content ranging between 20–80%, length
ranging between 18–32 nucleotides, and included 59 M13 tags
(Table S10). PCR products for sequencing were generated with a
2-step thermocycler program:
Initial Denaturation: 16—95uC, 5 minutes
Two-stepCycles:356—95uC,30 seconds;68uC,2 minutes
Extension: 16—72uC, 10 minutes
PCR products were sequenced using a standard protocol .
During the course of SNP discovery, we discovered errors in the
reference genome sequence for canine BMP3, producing two early
stop codons in the first exon. Sequencing of 13 dogs, including the
individual from which the reference genome sequence was
derived, indicates these stop codons are the results of errors in
the reference sequence.
Whole-genome sequencing and variant filtering
Paired-end libraries were prepared from DNA from eleven
dogs of breeds with widely varying skull shapes. Sequencing was
conducted on an Illumina HiSeq 2000 sequencer to a depth of
5.6–8.56 per dog using manufacturer protocols. The resulting
101-base paired-end sequences were mapped to the genome
(CanFam2 release May 2005) with bwa version 0.5.9-r16 with
Figure 2. PC1 GWAS and fine mapping at CFA32. All GWAS used the mixed-model GEMMA. Chromosomes listed on the x-axis, 2log10(P) on the
y-axis. SNPs remaining significant following Bonferroni correction are colored blue. Q-Q plots of observed versus expected 2log10(P) are depicted on
right, with full SNP dataset (black circles), pruned dataset (grey circles), expected values (red lines), and 95% confidence intervals (black lines). Scan
results using breed-sex averages of PC1 without (A) and with a breed-sex average size covariate (B). Including a size covariate in the mixed-model
overcorrects, leading to loss of associations on CFA 30 and 32.(C) Scan results using PC1 breed-sex averages and breed-sex size covariates. In this
scan, only breeds whose neurocranium size ranked within the smallest 50% of our dataset where analyzed. By reducing relatedness disparity in our
study population, the association on CFA32 remains significant despite size correction. (D) Scan results using all breed-sex averages of PC1, but
excluding extreme brachycephalic breeds (Pug, Pekingese, Boston Terrier, Shih Tzu, Brussels Griffon, French Bulldog, Bulldog, Boxer, Cavalier King
Charles Spaniel, Chihuahua). (E) Average log(HOratios) or FSTfrom ten-SNP sliding windows. (F) Regional HOor FSTvalues, and their respective Lowess
best fit curves.
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Figure 3. Genetic variation at the CFA32 QTL includes a brachycephaly-associated missense mutation within BMP3. For display
purposes, we set the reference sequence to be the allele most common to Pekingese and Bulldog. Variants located within 8.15–8.27 Mb (A) or the
85 kb critical interval (B) are illustrated (homozygous reference=yellow, heterozygous=orange, homozygous variant=red). (A) Pekingese and
Bulldog agree across an 85 kb interval (black bar) including BMP3 (red) and a portion of PRKG2 (aqua). Line graphs below genes plot conservation
(phastCons4way) and association (2log10(P)) with respect to variant position (28). (B) Variants of interest met one or more of the following criteria:
conserved (phastCons4way score $0.7), associated (an association P-value among the smallest 5% of P-values, see Materials and Methods), exonic
(untranslated regions and coding), or splice (located within 20 bp of an exon boundary). Forty-eight variants of interest remained after applying
filtering criteria, including a F452L mutation in BMP3 at position 8,196,098.
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read trimming set to 15. SNPs were called with samtools mpileup
version 0.1.18 and custom R scripts [36–39]. Thirteen SNPs in
the PC1-associated region overlap with the CanineHD Geno-
typing BeadChip (Illumina cat. no. WG-440). DNA from four
dogs was assayed with the chip; all resulting genotypes were
identical in the deep sequencing and chip results. Four hundred
and fifty-two SNPs were identified in the critical interval (85.7 kb
between 8,152,258 and 8,237,937), and subjected to further
filters. Genotypes with a genotype quality score below 8 were
reset to ‘‘unknown.’’ We performed association analysis using
PLINK with options specifying an additive model omitting the
Scottish Terrier, a dolichocephalic breed that appears to be an
outlier . After correcting for multiple testing, no SNPs were
significantly associated due to limited statistical strength of the
test. SNPs in the 5th percentile for association scores were
retained. Cross-species conservation was assessed by the UCSC
phastCons4way calculations  downloaded November 30,
2011, which is generated by using the phastCons program to
score the extent of conservation between dog, human, mouse and
rat. SNPs with a phastCons4way score above 0.7 were retained.
SNPs in an exon or within 20 bases of a splice junction were
Morpholino knockdown experiments of bmp3 used two transla-
tion blockers (MO1: 59-TGACAGCGATCCATGCTGGAGGT-
GC-39, MO2 59-CGGGACTATGGAAGCTGATCTA-39), which
overlapped by one nucleotide. Morpholino injections used 5.1 ng
(MO1) or 7.5 ng (MO2), as determined by titrations.
RNA synthesis and injections
Zebrafish bmp3 (IMAGE Id 7052011) and human BMP3
(Origene clone SC302990) cDNAs were sequenced and determined
to be full length. Missense FRL mutations for mouse GDF1 ,
human Bmp3, and zebrafish bmp2b  were introduced using site-
directed mutagenesis and confirmed by sequencing. Zebrafish bmp3
wt and FRL cDNAs were PCR-amplified using gene-specific
primers with attB sites. PCR products were subcloned into entry
and destination vectors (pCSDest) using Gateway recombination, as
previously described [43,44]. To construct the human BMP3
expression vector, we PCR-amplified the TGF-b signaling domain
using primers with XbaI and XhoI restriction sites. PCR products
were ligated into an expression vector bearing the Xenopus BMP2
prodomain, as such heterologous fusion constructs were previously
shown to enhance propeptide cleavage and biological activity .
Figure 4. Zebrafish cranioskeletal development requires Bmp3 function. (A–H) Wholemount RNA in situ hybridization of bmp3 expression
at 48 hpf (A,B), 72 hpf (C), and 96 hpf (D) stages. Anterior to the left. (A) Dorsal view, (B–D) lateral view. Pharyngeal arches indicated by brackets,
pectoral fins by red arrowheads. Wholemounts (E,H,K) and alcian blue cartilage stains (F,G,I,J,L,M) of 96 hpf embryos from uninjected (E–G) and
morpholino-injected embryos (h–j, mild phenotype, n=72/177; k–m, severe phenotype, n=83/177). Phenotypic severity is distinguished by tail
curling (compare insets). Loss of jaw structures (black arrows) and frontal bossing (white arrowheads) is apparent in both classes of morphants.
Cartilage is severely dysmorphic, hypoplastic, or absent following Bmp3 knockdown. Abbreviations correspond to ceratobranchial (cb), ceratohyal
(ch), eythmoid plate (ep), hyosymplectic (hs), Meckel’s (m), palatoquadrate (pq), and trabeculae (tr) cartilages.
BMP3 Variation Influences Dog Skull Shape
PLoS Genetics | www.plosgenetics.org8 August 2012 | Volume 8 | Issue 8 | e1002849
mRNA was synthesized using Ambion’s SP6 mMessage kit from
plasmid that was linearized with Not I. Embryo analyses of RNA
injections were done based on injections of the following amounts:
25–300 pg human BMP3 mRNA, 25–300 pg mouse Gdf1 mRNA,
1–100 pg zebrafish bmp2b. mRNA overexpression assays were
repeated three or more times at each stated concentration, unless
In Situ and Alcian blue stains
In situ hybridization was completed as described in Thisse and
Thisse 2008 , except probes were hydrolyzed for 2 minutes at
65uC, the hybridization solution contained 5% dextran sulfate,
and the anti-DIG-AP incubation and subsequent washes were
performed in Malic Acid Buffer rather than PBST. Alcian blue
stains were done as previously described by Schilling et al. ,
except that staining solution was composed of 0.15% Alcian blue,
50% EtOH, and 0.1 M HCl (pH=,1).
Plots and images
Embryos were imaged using Zeiss Axio Imager.M1, Zeiss
SteREO Lumar v12, or Leica M216F compound microscope.
Zeiss Axiovision v4.8.1 software was used for image capture.
Nonspecific background and dissection debris were removed
from images of Alcian blue cartilage dissections using Adobe
Photoshop CS3. All plots were generated using custom scripts, in
conjunction with R Cran packages ggplot2 , reshape2 ,
and RColorbrewer . Manhattan plot and Q-Q plot scripts
were adapted from examples posted on the blog ‘‘Getting
Genetics Done’’ . Post-processing of plots was done using
Adobe CS4 Creative Suite softwares Photoshop, InDesign, and
Informed consent was obtained for all collected dog samples. All
animal protocols (dog and zebrafish) were approved by the Animal
Care and Use Committees of the Intramural Program of the
National Human Genome Research Institute at the National
Institutes of Health or by Animal Care Committee of the Hospital
for Sick Children Research Institute. Wild canids samples were
graciously provided by Dr. Robert Wayne, in accordance with
UCLA Approved Animal Care and Use Committee Policies.
a microscribe digitizer. See Table S1 for anatomical descriptions
corresponding to numbering. (a–e) Anterior facing left. (A) Dorsal
and (B) Ventral views. (C) Lateral view (left side). (D) Oblique
lateral, intraorbital view (left). (E) Caudal view. Indications include
the rostrum (white brackets), palate and zygomatic arch (white
lines), and neurocranium (dashed ovoid). Color indicates landmarks
used for calculating the neurocranium centroid (blue).
Diagrams of51cranioskeletal landmarkscaptured with
with and without a size covariate. (A and B) x-axis indicates
chromosome, y-axis indicates 2log10(P-value). (A) Univariate
analysis suggests multiple, highly significant loci are associated
with PC1 skull shape. (B) Correction for size using breed averages
of the log(neurocranium centroid) indicates that associations on
CFA10 (HMGA2 locus) and CFA15 (IGF1 locus) are lost upon
correction (compare green arrows).
PC1 GWAS results from PLINK linear regressions
30. CFA1 (A–C), CFA5 (D–F), CFA30 (G–I). Line graphs plot 10-
SNP sliding window averages for log(HOratios) (A,D,G) or FST
(B,E,H) for each chromosome. Scatterplots depict regional views
of SNP values for HOor FSTand include Lowess best fit curves
(C,F,I). Color coding corresponds to dolichocephalic breeds (blue),
brachycephalic breeds (purple), and FSTtreating brachycephalic
breeds as a subpopulation (green).
Selective sweeps detected at QTLs on CFA1, 5, and
variants. Overexpression utilized human BMP3 constructs, since
the mature peptides of human and dog/wolf BMP3 are identical.
(A–C) Whole mount embryos at embryonic stage 24 hpf, anterior
to the left. Phenotypes are representative of (A) normal, (B)
dorsalized, (C) mildly dorsalized classes following injection of
human BMP3 mRNA into one-cell staged zebrafish embryos. (D)
Stacked bar graph summarizing phenotypes observed following wt
BMP3 or BMP3F452LmRNA injection. The dysmorphic pheno-
types classified as ‘‘other’’ included combinations of mild
dorsalization, tail curving, occlusion of the yolk extension, and
invariably, hypoplasia or necrosis of head structures. Doses listed
are in picograms (pg) of mRNA (x-axis). The frequencies of
phenotypes are indicated by the y-axis. Each dose was repeated
five or more times. The number of embryos injected is listed above
each dose. Injection of BMP3F452Lmore potently dorsalizes
embryos compared to wt BMP3 (student’s t-test P,0.05 for 25–
75 pg doses, ,0.01 for 100 pg dose).
Overexpression activity differs between BMP3
C,E–G) Whole mount embryos at embryonic stage 24 hpf (A–C)
or 28 hpf (E–G), anterior to the left. Phenotypes are representative
of (A,E) normal, (B) dorsalized, (C) mildly dorsalized, (F)
ventralized, (G) mildly ventralized classes following injections.
(A–D) Embryos injected with mouse Gdf1or Gdf1FRLmRNA. (E–
H) Embryos injected with either zebrafish bmp2b or bmp2bYRL
mRNA. (D,H) Stacked bar graphs depicting frequency of observed
phenotypes. Number of embryos injected per mRNA concentra-
tion appears above columns. While a missense mutation strongly
reduces GDF1 dorsalizing activity, a comparable mutation in
Bmp2b has little affect on this molecule’s ventralizing activity.
Y/FRL substitutions differentially affect Tgfßs. (A–
brachycephalic breeds were defined by their isolation from the
main distribution of PC1.
Histogram of PC1 breed-sex values. Extreme
er. Location of each landmark is described by the right column
(compare with Figure S1).
Fifty-one landmarks measured by microscribe digitiz-
(first column) refers to each collection’s numerical identifiers, when
assigned. Collection abbreviations correspond to the following:
Skulls Unlimited Museum of Osteology (SUMO), Oklahoma City,
OK; Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History (SMNH),
Washington, DC; California Academy of Science (CAS), San
Francisco, CA; and Naturhistorisches Museum der Burgerge-
meinde Bern (NMBE). Bandar, and Williams are personal
collections. PC1 rank and size quartiles are based on breed
averages. Size quartiles are based on the distribution of
neurocranium centroid sizes where ‘‘1’’ is smallest, ‘‘4’’ is largest.
Canid skull sources used in morphometric analyses. ID
BMP3 Variation Influences Dog Skull Shape
PLoS Genetics | www.plosgenetics.org9 August 2012 | Volume 8 | Issue 8 | e1002849
GWAS. The genotypes from a total of 576 CanMap dogs (105
breed-sex combinations) were matched with PC1 breed-sex
phenotypes. For 75 CanMap breed-sex combinations, PC1 traits
were assigned breed-sex averages. The remaining 30 breed-sex
assignments were made based on PC1 data that was derived from
a single breed-sex representative. Of the 30 breeds with assigned
PC1 values based on single skull representatives, 17 of these had
PC1 breed-sex averages for the opposite sex. Nineteen CanMap
breeds used genotype data from only one sex, as craniometric
data for the opposite sex was unavailable. Asterisks indicate
CanMap breeds falling within the 1st
log(neurocranium centroid) quartiles that were used in stratified
analysis (Figure 2C).
CanMap genotype profiles used in skull shape
the top 100 associations (PLINK) or those that remained
significant following correction for multiple testing (Bonferroni
adjustment, GEMMA). Minor allele frequencies are based on 576
dogs from the CanMap dataset for whom we collected phenotype
data. SNPs are ordered by strength of association and analysis
Associated SNPs and their p-values. SNPs listed are
by GWAS, a single marker and an interval are listed. Intervals
indicate regions of contiguous or nearly contiguous blocks of sliding
windows whose FSTscores ranked within the top 95thpercent of the
distribution (FST=0.06). The best marker withineachinterval is also
listed. Note that CFAX.105 is not listed, as sliding windows for this
QTL did not exceed the 95thpercent cutoff.
FSTintervals. For each non-allometric QTL identified
genotypes. Ninety-three haplotypes with 5 or more chromosomes
are listed. Alleles are color-coded relative to Haplotype 55
(Hap55), the most common haplotype identified, with matching
alleles colored blue and differences colored red. Ranges in
haplotype frequency (or chromosome sum, right-most column)
are color-coded from blue to red, to represent low thru high
values, respectively. Among extreme brachycephalic breeds, only
6 haplotypes were inferred (a haplotype unique to one Boston
Terrier was omitted from the table above): Haplotypes 51, 55, 56,
65, 130, and 134. Commonality among the six haplotypes spans a
190 kb interval, from markers CFA32.8152258-CFA32.8342370.
Notably, this interval extends across BMP3 and PRKG2.
Haplotypes inferred by fastPHASE using CanMap
genome sequencing reads to the 190 kb critical interval (CFA32
markers 8152258–8342370) defined by CanMap haplotype
sharing among brachycephalic breeds. Positions correspond to
the CanFam2 assembly. Genotypes with quality thresholds #8
were reset to ‘‘0’’. Green shading highlights criteria used for
filtering variants. A priori knowledge indicated that causal
variant(s) at the CFA32 locus must be located within a critical
interval defined by allelic agreement between the Bulldog and
Pekingese that were used for sequencing. As such, we reduced our
critical interval to variants falling between CFA32 markers
8152258–8237937. In addition to meeting this criterion, variants
earmarked ‘‘TRUE’’ under the column ‘‘Of potential interest’’
met one or more of the following criteria: 1) location within or
20 bp adjacent to an exon, 2) phastCons4way score $0.7, or 3)
Genetic variants discovered via alignment of whole-
an association score (omitting Scottish terriers, see Materials and
Methods) falling within the smallest 5% of P-values. In total, 48
variants met criteria listed above, including the missense mutation
of BMP3 at position 8,196,098 (indicated by boldface).
CFA32:8237937. A panel of 32 Pekingese were genotyped by
Sanger sequencing using three markers: CFA32: 8196098 (the
BMP3 missense mutation), CFA32:8237937 and CFA32:8296162.
The latter two markers occur downstream of the breakpoint that
was detected based on disagreement between the Pekingese and
Bulldog whose genomes were sequenced.
Dogs genotypedto verifythebreakpoint at
dogs and wolves. The BMP3F452Lis caused by a C to A
transversion at CFA32:8196098. A total of 113 AKC and FCI
recognized breeds were genotyped by Sanger sequencing.
Breeds and wolves are ordered according to PC1 rank (high=-
brachycephalic, low=dolichocephalic). Frequencies are given
corresponding to derived (‘‘A’’) and ancestral (‘‘C’’) alleles. With
the exception of Scottish Terriers and one Shetland sheepdog,
all carriers of the BMP3 missense mutation rank higher than
wolves for PC1. Among breeds in our allele frequency survey
without morphological information (rows 77–113), six of eight
carriers are assumed to be brachycephalic based on breed club
descriptions (marked with asterisks). Green shading reflects
A survey of the BMP3 C/A transversion among 842
indicated by the last column. Name (1st column) refers to
Ostrander lab primer identifiers. 59 Tag (3rd column) refers to
primer modifications used to aid sequencing or subcloning. Start
and end amplicon positions are based on CanFam2 coordinates.
Primers used for sequencing and subcloning, as
The authors thank Drs. Danielle Gelinas and Leslie Pusateri (Ciruna
laboratory); Dr. Marc Nussbaumer (NMBE), Linda Gordon (SMNH), Joey
Williams, and the staff of SUMO; Raymond Bandar and Maureen
Flannery (CAS) for assistance accessing skull collections; Dr. Karen M.
Lyons for discussions regarding unpublished data; Dr. Tyrone Spady and
Gary Wilson for permission to use their images; Dr. Brenda Frazier for
geometric morphometrics advice; and Drs. Xiang Zhou and Matthew
Stephens (University of Chicago) for guidance running GEMMA. We also
thank Drs. Edward Giniger, Jonine Figueroa, and members of the
Ostrander laboratory for their editorial comments; Dr. Shelley Hoogstra-
ten-Miller and members of the Office of Laboratory Animal Medicine for
their assistance with sample collections; and the many dog owners who
generously provided blood samples.
Conceived and designed the experiments: JJ Schoenebeck, B Ciruna, HC
Beale, B Decker, JW Fondon, RK Wayne, EA Ostrander. Performed the
experiments: JJ Schoenebeck, SA Hutchinson, A Byers, B Carrington, DL
Faden, M Rimbault. Analyzed the data: JJ Schoenebeck, SA Hutchinson,
A Byers, M Rimbault, HC Beale, B Decker. Contributed reagents/
materials/analysis tools: R Sood, JW Fondon, RK Wayne, AR Boyko, JM
Kidd, CD Bustamante, B Ciruna, EA Ostrander. Wrote the paper: JJ
Schoenebeck, HC Beale, EA Ostrander. Genome-wide sequence analysis:
HC Beale, B Decker. Provided edits: SA Hutchinson, A Byers, DL Faden,
AR Boyko, JW Fondon, RK Wayne, B Ciruna.
BMP3 Variation Influences Dog Skull Shape
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BMP3 Variation Influences Dog Skull Shape
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