The Agouti (agouti signalling protein, ASIP) gene produces a protein that regulates the distribution of black pigment (eumelanin) within the hair shaft. The wild type allele A is dominant and produces hair shafts with alternating bands of yellow and black color, ending with black tips (similar to the coat of a wild mouse or rabbit). The recessive allele a produces a cat that is self-colored (solid) when 2 copies of a are present. Another system of pigmentation in cats produces the tabby patterns of dark stripes interspersed with the lighter agouti tipped hairs. Hairs in the darker stripes do not have the shift between black and yellow pigment production and remain uniformly dark. The effect of the agouti protein on orange pigment is limited, thus tabby striping may still be seen on cats that are a/a for agouti.
A/A: Homozygous for agouti. All offspring will have agouti banded hair.
A/a: Heterozygous for agouti. Offspring can be agouti or non-agouti depending on the genetics of the mating.
a/a: Homozygous for non-agouti (solid colored). If bred to a non-agouti, only non-agouti offspring will be produced.
How does the genetic test work and how safe is it?
Firstly, the DNA which is the genetic information of an animal is isolated from a blood or a cheek swab sample. Then the genes of interest are amplified a million-fold by PCR (polymerase chain reaction) to facilitate the following analysis. The analysis is automatically performed by a genetic analyzer and reveals the gene sequence of the region of interest.
Therefore, the mutations leading to the different coat colours can be seen directly and heterozygous carriers of these mutations can also be identified. Since the test is done mainly automatically, laboratory errors can be widely excluded.
Interpretation of the test results
The test results will be submitted separately for each coat colour, so that the genotype for each corresponding gene locus will be given.