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  • Etalon Admin

Let's talk about Equine DMRT3, or the "Gait Gene"

Gene: DMRT3, Reference allele: C, Mutant allele: A

Horses display a wide variation in locomotion, with “gaited” breeds displaying a range of unique footfall patterns at intermediate speeds. Even amongst the "non-gaited" breeds, some individuals are capable of unique lateral movements. Also, while most horses will shift into the three beat canter at higher speeds, some horses are able to remain in their intermediate gaits (for example, harness racing breeds) without breaking into a canter. DMRT3 is a transcription factor located within the spinal cord, and therefore, a neurologically active genetic variant. 

The exact phenotype of the DMRT3 mutation is, to date, somewhat controversial. Currently published research has identified this mutation as the causal variation responsible for the ability to perform intermediate lateral gaits and has been subsequently called "the gait gene" by some. However, even within these studies, there were and are horses from gaited breeds, clearly displaying "gaited" movement that are C/C, or negative for DMRT3. 

Additionally, preliminary testing has uncovered the DMRT3 mutation in breeds not known for gaiting. It is also suspected that there may be additional or different "gait" variations/genes still undiscovered in many breeds. Etalon is currently conducting a large-scale research study in collaboration with horse owners, veterinarians, and other equine scientists and a publication is forthcoming shortly. Has your horse been tested for the DMRT3 gene?

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