Canine red blood cell thiopurine S-methyltransferase: Companion animal pharmacogenetics

Oreste E. Salavaggione, Linda Kidd, Janel L. Prondzinski, Carol L. Szumlanski, V. Shane Pankratz, Liewei Wang, Lauren Trepanier, Richard M. Weinshilboum

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


Thiopurine S-methyltransferase (TPMT) plays an important role in the metabolism of thiopurine drugs. In humans, a common genetic polymorphism for TPMT is a major factor responsible for individual variation in the toxicity and therapeutic efficacy of these drugs. Dogs (Canis familiaris) are also treated with thiopurine drugs and, similar to humans, they display large individual variations in thiopurine toxicity and efficacy. We set out to determine whether dogs might also display genetically determined variation in TPMT activity. As a first step, we observed that canine red blood cell (RBC) TPMT activity in samples from 145 dogs varied over a nine-fold range. That variation was not associated with either the age or sex of the animal. Subsequently, we cloned the canine TPMT cDNA and gene. The canine cDNA encoded a protein that was 81.2% identical to the enzyme encoded by the most common TPMT allele in humans. A genotype-phenotype correlation analysis was performed by resequencing the canine TPMT gene using DNA samples from 39 animals selected for high, low or intermediate levels of RBC TPMT activity. We observed nine polymorphisms in these 39 DNA samples, including three insertion/deletion events and six single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs), one of which was a nonsynonymous cSNP (Arg97Gln). However, when the variant allozyme at codon 97 was expressed in COS-1 cells, it did not display significant differences in either basal levels of TPMT activity or in substrate kinetics compared with the wild-type allozyme. Six of the nine canine TPMT polymorphisms were associated with 67% of the variation in level of RBC TPMT activity in these 39 blood samples. When those six SNPs were assayed using DNA from all 145 animals studied, 40% of the phenotypic variance in the entire population sample could be explained by these polymorphisms. Therefore, inheritance is a major factor involved in the regulation of variation in RBC TPMT in the dog, just as it is in humans. These observations represent a step towards the application of pharmacogenetic and pharmacogenomic principles to companion animal drug therapy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)713-724
Number of pages12
Issue number9
StatePublished - Dec 2002


  • Canine gene polymorphism
  • Pharmacogenetics
  • TPMT
  • Thiopurine S-methyltransferase

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics
  • Pharmacology, Toxicology and Pharmaceutics(all)


Dive into the research topics of 'Canine red blood cell thiopurine S-methyltransferase: Companion animal pharmacogenetics'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this