Department of Animal Science


Date of this Version



J Vet Intern Med. 2019;33:933–941


© 2019 The Authors.

Open access

DOI: 10.1111/jvim.15425


Background: Sarcolipin (SLN), myoregulin (MRLN), and dwarf open reading frame (DWORF) are transmembrane regulators of the sarcoplasmic reticulum calcium transporting ATPase (SERCA) that we hypothesized played a role in recurrent exertional rhabdomyolysis (RER).

Objectives: Compare coding sequences of SLN, MRLN, DWORF across species and between RER and control horses. Compare expression of muscle Ca2+ regulatory genes between RER and control horses.

Animals: Twenty Thoroughbreds (TB), 5 Standardbreds (STD), 6 Quarter Horses (QH) with RER and 39 breed-matched controls.

Methods: Sanger sequencing of SERCA regulatory genes with comparison of amino acid (AA) sequences among control, RER horses, human, mouse, and rabbit reference genomes. In RER and control gluteal muscle, quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction of SERCA regulatory peptides, the calcium release channel (RYR1), and its accessory proteins calsequestrin (CASQ1), and calstabin (FKBP1A).

Results: The SLN gene was the highest expressed horse SERCA regulatory gene with a uniquely truncated AA sequence (29 versus 31) versus other species. Coding sequences of SLN, MRLN, and DWORF were identical in RER and control horses. A sex-by-phenotype effect occurred with lower CASQ1 expression in RER males versus control males (P < .001) and RER females (P = .05) and higher FKBP1A (P = .01) expression in RER males versus control males.

Conclusions and Clinical Importance: The SLN gene encodes a uniquely truncated peptide in the horse versus other species. Variants in the coding sequence of SLN, MLRN, or DWORF were not associated with RER. Males with RER have differential gene expression that could reflect adaptations to stabilize RYR1.