A large deletion in the COL2A1 gene expands the spectrum of pathogenic variants causing bulldog calf syndrome in cattle.

Pontes Jacinto, Joana Goncalves; Häfliger, Irene Monika; Letko, Anna; Drögemüller, Cord; Agerholm, Jørgen Steen (2020). A large deletion in the COL2A1 gene expands the spectrum of pathogenic variants causing bulldog calf syndrome in cattle. Acta Veterinaria Scandinavica, 62(1), p. 49. BioMed Central Ltd. 10.1186/s13028-020-00548-w

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Congenital bovine chondrodysplasia, also known as bulldog calf syndrome, is characterized by disproportionate growth of bones resulting in a shortened and compressed body, mainly due to reduced length of the spine and the long bones of the limbs. In addition, severe facial dysmorphisms including palatoschisis and shortening of the viscerocranium are present. Abnormalities in the gene collagen type II alpha 1 chain (COL2A1) have been associated with some cases of the bulldog calf syndrome. Until now, six pathogenic single-nucleotide variants have been found in COL2A1. Here we present a novel variant in COL2A1 of a Holstein calf and provide an overview of the phenotypic and allelic heterogeneity of the COL2A1-related bulldog calf syndrome in cattle.


The calf was aborted at gestation day 264 and showed generalized disproportionate dwarfism, with a shortened compressed body and limbs, and dysplasia of the viscerocranium; a phenotype resembling bulldog calf syndrome due to an abnormality in COL2A1. Whole-genome sequence (WGS) data was obtained and revealed a heterozygous 3513 base pair deletion encompassing 10 of the 54 coding exons of COL2A1. Polymerase chain reaction analysis and Sanger sequencing confirmed the breakpoints of the deletion and its absence in the genomes of both parents.


The pathological and genetic findings were consistent with a case of "bulldog calf syndrome". The identified variant causing the syndrome was the result of a de novo mutation event that either occurred post-zygotically in the developing embryo or was inherited because of low-level mosaicism in one of the parents. The identified loss-of-function variant is pathogenic due to COL2A1 haploinsufficiency and represents the first structural variant causing bulldog calf syndrome in cattle. Furthermore, this case report highlights the utility of WGS-based precise diagnostics for understanding congenital disorders in cattle and the need for continued surveillance for genetic disorders in cattle.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


05 Veterinary Medicine > Department of Clinical Research and Veterinary Public Health (DCR-VPH) > Institute of Genetics

Graduate School:

Graduate School for Cellular and Biomedical Sciences (GCB)

UniBE Contributor:

Häfliger, Irene Monika, Letko, Anna, Drögemüller, Cord


500 Science > 590 Animals (Zoology)
600 Technology > 630 Agriculture
500 Science > 570 Life sciences; biology
600 Technology > 610 Medicine & health




BioMed Central Ltd.




Cord Drögemüller

Date Deposited:

08 Sep 2020 14:31

Last Modified:

05 Dec 2022 15:40

Publisher DOI:


PubMed ID:


Uncontrolled Keywords:

Chondrodysplasia Congenital Malformation Precision medicine Rare disease Type II collagenopathy Whole-genome sequencing





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