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Dr. Vicki Meyers-Wallen’s Current Projects:

XX DSD Mutations

Additional Resources:

Dr. Meyers-Wallen's CV

Vicki Meyers-Wallen looing into a microscopeDr. Meyers-Wallen at her computerLab equiptmentDr. Meyers-Wallen looking at test tubesDr, Meyers-Wallen's dog, ViolaDr. Meyers Wallen at her lab benchVicki and her dog ViolaDr. Meyers-Wallen looking into a microscope at her lab bench

Vicki Meyers-Wallen, VMD, Ph.D., DACT

Associate Professor of Genetics and Reproduction

Dr. Vicki-Meyers-Wallen has worked on identifying the genetic causes behind inherited disorders of sexual development, or DSDs, conditions that impair the normal development of reproductive organs in animals and humans alike. Inherited disorders of dogs have long plagued dog breeding because, in many cases, it is difficult to tell which dogs carry the mutations related to the condition and which do not, an ambiguity that enables the mutation to continue to be passed down through the generations.

This ambiguity is true of the particular form of DSD that Meyers-Wallen is currently studying, “XX DSD”, which causes infertility (impaired ability to reproduce) and sterility (the incapacity to reproduce) in 28 breeds of purebred dogs. And like other inherited conditions, XX DSD can’t be eliminated from a population unless all the dogs that carry the mutations  for the condition are identified and are prevented from reproducing and carrying the condition to the next generation. Similar conditions also strike in humans, but the genetics and the mode of inheritance of these conditions are often difficult or impossible to tease apart.

Dogs that are affected with XX DSD have normal female chromosomes but instead of developing ovaries, they develop testicles or combination ovary-testes called ovotestes, which produce testosterone and promote male features in the remainder of internal and external genitalia. Genetically speaking, these dogs are female because they have two X chromosomes, but since they have some features of male external genitals, they can appear to be males or females. Early investigations of the disorder focused on a gene called SRY, which is responsible for initiating male sex determination in humans, but Meyers-Wallen’s lab put that possibility to rest by showing that SRY isn’t present in XX DSD-affected dogs.

In order to determine the real cause, Meyers-Wallen is applying whole genome sequencing, computational tools, and careful analysis to solve the riddle of XX DSD. The search has been narrowed down to a small region in the genome where affected dogs differ from dogs who definitely do not carry the mutation  for the disorder. Further testing lies ahead to determine which mutation  is responsible for testes development in XX DSD dogs.

Once Meyers-Wallen has identified the mutation  responsible for XX DSD, a test can be developed to identify dogs that carry the mutation. Determining the genetic cause of XX DSD would not only help dogs. A better understanding of the normal pathways of sexual development may also help human families struggling with these disorders by pointing the way to genetic tests that can help with family planning decisions.


Publications:

1. Meyers-Wallen VN. (2012). Application of genomic and molecular methods to fundamental questions in canine and feline reproductive health. Reproduction in Domestic Animals, 47 Suppl 6:309-12. Abstract

2. Pujar S, Meyers-Wallen VN. (2012). Sequence variations in equine candidate genes For XX and XY inherited disorders of sexual development. Reproduction in Domestic Animals, 47(5):827-34. Abstract

3. Meyers-Wallen VN. (2012). Gonadal and sex differentiation abnormalities of dogs and cats. Sexual Development, 6(1-3):46-60. Abstract

4. O'Connor CL1, Schweizer C, Gradil C, Schlafer D, Lopate C, Prociuk U, Meyers-Wallen VN, Casal ML. (2011). Trisomy-X with estrous cycle anomalies in two female dogs. Theriogenology, 76(2):374-80. Abstract

5. Schlafer DH1, Valentine B, Fahnestock G, Froenicke L, Grahn RA, Lyons LA, Meyers-Wallen VN. (2011). A case of SRY-positive 38,XY true hermaphroditism (XY sex reversal) in a cat. Veterinary Pathology, 48(4):817-22. Abstract

6. Pujar AF, Meyers-Wallen VN. (2010). A Molecular Diagnostic Test for Persistent Mullerian Duct Syndrome in Miniature Schnauzer Dogs. Sexual Development, 3(6): 326–328. Abstract

7. Wu X1, Wan S, Pujar S, Haskins ME, Schlafer DH, Lee MM, Meyers-Wallen VN. (2009). A single base pair mutation encoding a premature stop codon in the MIS type II receptor is responsible for canine persistent Müllerian duct syndrome. Journal of Andrology, 30(1):46-56. Abstract

8. De Lorenzi L1, Groppetti D, Arrighi S, Pujar S, Nicoloso L, Molteni L, Pecile A, Cremonesi F, Parma P, Meyers-Wallen V. (2008). Mutations in the RSPO1 coding region are not the main cause of canine SRY-negative XX sex reversal in several breeds. Sexual Development, 2(2):84-95. Abstract

9. Meyers-Wallen VN. (2007). Unusual and abnormal canine estrous cycles. Theriogenology, 68(9):1205-10. Abstract

10. Kim Y1, Travis AJ, Meyers-Wallen VN. (2007). Parturition prediction and timing of canine pregnancy. Theriogenology,68(8):1177-82. Abstract

11. Kothapalli KS, Kirkness EF, Vanwormer R, Meyers-Wallen VN. (2006). Exclusion of DMRT1 as a candidate gene for canine SRY-negative XX sex reversal. Veterinary Journal, 171(3):559-61. Abstract

12. Pujar S, Kothapalli KS, Kirkness E, Van Wormer RH, Meyers-Wallen VN. (2005). Exclusion of Lhx9 as a candidate gene for Sry-negative XX sex reversal in the American cocker spaniel model. Journal of Heredity, 96(4):452-4. Abstract

13. Meyers-Wallen VN. (2005). Sf1 and Mis expression: molecular milestones in the canine sex determination pathway. Molecular Reproduction and Development, 70(4):383-9. Abstract

14. Kothapalli KS1, Kirkness EF, Pujar S, Meyers-Wallen VN. (2004). Exclusion of WT1 as a candidate gene for canine SRY-negative XX sex reversal. Animal Genetics, 35(6):466-7. Abstract

15. Kothapalli KS1, Kirkness E, Natale LJ, Meyers-Wallen VN. (2003). Exclusion of PISRT1 as a candidate locus for canine Sry-negative XX sex reversal. Animal Genetics, 34(6):467-9. Abstract