A syndrome of chronic upper and lower airway disease leading to increased morbidity and mortality occurs primarily in captive orangutans. Similarities in symptoms to the inherited human respiratory disease, cystic fibrosis, led us to hypothesize that orangutan respiratory disease is a result of variants in the Cystic Fibrosis Transmembrane Conductance Regulator (CFTR) gene. We identified the nonsense variant, c.484A>T (p.Lys162X), in heterozygosity in an unaffected orangutan. Analysis of the pedigree of this orangutan confirmed that both his sire and deceased fetus also harbored the c.484A>T allele. An expression minigene harboring c.484A>T produced no full-length CFTR protein in HEK293 cells. Finally, the c.484A>T CFTR messenger RNA abundance was severely reduced in primary nasal epithelial cells of the orangutan indicating that c.484A>T (p.Lys162X) is potentially lethal. Genetic screening of the captive orangutan population could be used to prevent transmission of this potentially lethal variant, and thus aid in the conservation of this critically endangered species.
- air sacculitis
- cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator (CFTR) gene
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
- Animal Science and Zoology