Discover the most talked about and latest scientific content & concepts.

Journal: Animal genetics


Myostatin, encoded by the MSTN gene, is a member of the TGF-β superfamily that regulates skeletal muscle development. A MSTN SNP significantly associated with Thoroughbred horse racing phenotypes has recently been identified as well as significant reductions in Thoroughbred skeletal muscle gene expression for three transcripts 400-1500 base pairs downstream of the MSTN gene following a period of training. Together, these findings indicate that MSTN genotypes may influence MSTN gene expression. To investigate this, MSTN mRNA expression was measured in biopsies from the middle gluteal muscle from 60 untrained yearling Thoroughbreds (C/C, n = 15; C/T, n = 28; T/T, n = 17) using two independent real-time qRT-PCR assays. MSTN gene expression was also evaluated in a subset (N = 33) of these animals using samples collected after a ten-month period of training. A significant association was observed between genotype and mRNA abundance for the untrained horses (assay I, P = 0.0237; assay II, P = 0.003559), with the C/C cohort having the highest MSTN mRNA levels, the T/T group the lowest levels and the C/T group intermediate levels. Following training, there was a significant decrease in MSTN mRNA (-3.35-fold; P = 6.9 × 10(-7) ), which was most apparent for the C/C cohort (-5.88-fold, P = 0.001). These data demonstrate the tight relationship between phenotype, genotype and gene expression at the MSTN gene in Thoroughbred racehorses.

Concepts: DNA, Gene, Genetics, Genotype, Evolution, Phenotype, Thoroughbred, Horse racing


Progressive retinal atrophy (PRA) in dogs is characterised by the degeneration of the photoreceptor cells of the retina, resulting in vision loss and eventually complete blindness. The condition affects more than 100 dog breeds and is known to be genetically heterogeneous between breeds. Around 14 mutations have now been identified that are associated with PRA in around 49 breeds, but for the majority of breeds the mutation(s) responsible have yet to be identified. Using genome-wide association with 16 Gordon Setter PRA cases and 22 controls, we identified a novel PRA locus, termed rod-cone degeneration 4 (rcd4), on CFA17 (P  = 2.22 × 10 , P  = 2.00 × 10 ), where a 3.2-Mb region was homozygous within cases. A frameshift mutation was identified in C2orf71, a gene located within this region. This variant was homozygous in 19 of 21 PRA cases and was at a frequency of approximately 0.37 in the Gordon Setter population. Approximately 10% of cases in our study (2 of 21) are not associated with this C2orf71 mutation, indicating that PRA in this breed is genetically heterogeneous and caused by at least two mutations. This variant is also present in a number of Irish Setter dogs with PRA and has an estimated allele frequency of 0.26 in the breed. The function of C2orf71 remains unknown, but it is important for retinal development and function and has previously been associated with autosomal recessive retinitis pigmentosa in humans.

Concepts: Genetics, Allele, Retina, Retinitis pigmentosa, Dog breed, Progressive retinal atrophy, Irish Setter, Setter


To determine the genetic diversity and paternal origin of Chinese cattle, 302 males from 16 Chinese native cattle breeds as well as 30 Holstein males and four Burma males as controls were analysed using four Y-SNPs and two Y-STRs. In Chinese bulls, the taurine Y1 and Y2 haplogroups and indicine Y3 haplogroup were detected in seven, 172 and 123 individuals respectively, and these frequencies varied among the Chinese cattle breeds examined. Y2 dominates in northern China (91.4%), and Y3 dominates in southern China (90.8%). Central China is an admixture zone, although Y2 predominates overall (72.0%). The geographical distributions of the Y2 and Y3 haplogroup frequencies revealed a pattern of male indicine introgression from south to north China. The three Y haplogroups were further classified into one Y1 haplotype, five Y2 haplotypes and one Y3 haplotype in Chinese native bulls. Due to the interplay between taurine and indicine types, Chinese cattle represent an extensive reservoir of genetic diversity. The Y haplotype distribution of Chinese cattle exhibited a clear geographical structure, which is consistent with mtDNA, historical and geographical information.

Concepts: China, Genetic genealogy, Population genetics, Genealogical DNA test, Qing Dynasty, Yuan Dynasty, Haplotype, Haplogroup


The recent availability of a genome-wide SNP array for the goat genome dramatically increases the power to investigate aspects of genetic diversity and to conduct genome-wide association studies in this important domestic species. We collected and analysed genotypes from 52 088 SNPs in Boer, Cashmere and Rangeland goats that had both polled and horned individuals. Principal components analysis revealed a clear genetic division between animals for each population, and model-based clustering successfully detected evidence of admixture that matched aspects of their recorded history. For example, shared co-ancestry was detected, suggesting Boer goats have been introgressed into the Rangeland population. Further, allele frequency data successfully tracked the altered genetic profile that has taken place after 40 years of breeding Australian Cashmere goats using the Rangeland animals as the founding population. Genome-wide association mapping of the POLL locus revealed a strong signal on goat chromosome 1. The 769-kb critical interval contained the polled intersex syndrome locus, confirming the genetic basis in non-European animals is the same as identified previously in Saanen goats. Interestingly, analysis of the haplotypes carried by a small set of sex-reversed animals, known to be associated with polledness, revealed some animals carried the wild-type chromosome associated with the presence of horns. This suggests a more complex basis for the relationship between polledness and the intersex condition than initially thought while validating the application of the goat SNP50 BeadChip for fine-mapping traits in goat.

Concepts: Gene, Genetics, Allele, Evolution, Population genetics, Livestock, Goat, Horn


This study aimed to identify regions of the genome affecting resistance to gastrointestinal nematodes in a Creole goat population naturally exposed to a mixed nematode infection (Haemonchus contortus, Trichostrongylus colubriformis and Oesophagostomum columbianum) by grazing on irrigated pasture. A genome-wide quantitative trait loci (QTL) scan was performed on 383 offspring from 12 half-sib families. A total of 101 microsatellite markers were genotyped. Traits analysed were faecal egg count (FEC), packed cell volume (PCV), eosinophil count and bodyweight (BW) at 7 and 11 months of age. Levels of activity of immunoglobulin A (IgA) and activity of immunoglobulin E (IgE) anti-Haemonchus contortus L3 crude extracts and adult excretion/secretion products (ESPs) were also analysed. Using interval mapping, this study identified 13 QTL for parasite resistance. Two QTL linked with FEC were found on chromosomes 22 and 26. Three QTL were detected on chromosomes 7, 8 and 14 for eosinophil counts. Three QTL linked with PCV were identified on chromosomes 5, 9 and 21. A QTL for BW at 7 months of age was found on chromosome 6. Lastly, two QTL detected on chromosomes 3 and 10 were associated with IgE anti-L3, and IgE anti-ESP was linked with two QTL on chromosomes 1 and 26. This study is the first to have identified regions of the genome linked with nematode resistance in a goat population using a genome scan. These results provide useful tools for the understanding of parasite resistance in small ruminants.

Concepts: Immune system, Genetics, Bacteria, Caenorhabditis elegans, Nematode, Model organism, Nematodes, Haemonchus contortus


The fatty acid synthase (FASN) and stearoyl-CoA desaturase (delta-9-desaturase) (SCD) genes affect fatty acid composition. This study evaluated the contributions of polymorphisms of these genes on fatty acid composition in muscle in two different populations: 1189 and 1058 Japanese Black cattle from the Miyagi and the Yamagata populations respectively. We sampled intramuscular fat from the longissimus thoracis muscle in the Miyagi population and from the trapezius muscle in the Yamagata population. The collective contributions of FASN and SCD polymorphisms to total additive genetic variance for oleic acid were 13.46% in the Miyagi population and 16.29% in the Yamagata population and to phenotypic variance were 5.45% and 6.54% respectively. Although the individual effects of FASN and SCD polymorphisms on fatty acid composition were small, overall gene substitution may effectively improve fatty acid composition. In addition, we found that gene polymorphism contributions of fatty acids varied by population even in the same breed.

Concepts: Gene, Fatty acid, Fatty acids, Essential fatty acid, Fat, Fatty acid metabolism, Oleic acid, Fatty acid synthase


The POLL locus has been mapped to the centromeric region of bovine chromosome 1 (BTA1) in both taurine breeds and taurine-indicine crosses in an interval of approximately 1 Mb. It has not yet been mapped in pure-bred zebu cattle. Despite several efforts, neither causative mutations in candidate genes nor a singular diagnostic DNA marker has been identified. In this study, we genotyped a total of 68 Brahman cattle and 20 Hereford cattle informative for the POLL locus for 33 DNA microsatellites, 16 of which we identified de novo from the bovine genome sequence, mapping the POLL locus to the region of the genes IFNAR2 and SYNJ1. The 303-bp allele of the new microsatellite, CSAFG29, showed strong association with the POLL allele. We then genotyped 855 Brahman cattle for CSAFG29 and confirmed the association between the 303-bp allele and POLL. To determine whether the same association was found in taurine breeds, we genotyped 334 animals of the Angus, Hereford and Limousin breeds and 376 animals of the Brangus, Droughtmaster and Santa Gertrudis composite taurine-zebu breeds. The association between the 303-bp allele and POLL was confirmed in these breeds; however, an additional allele (305 bp) was also associated but not fully predictive of POLL. Across the data, CSAFG29 was in sufficient linkage disequilibrium to the POLL allele in Australian Brahman cattle that it could potentially be used as a diagnostic marker in that breed, but this may not be the case in other breeds. Further, we provide confirmatory evidence that the scur phenotype generally occurs in animals that are heterozygous for the POLL allele.

Concepts: DNA, Gene, Genetics, Cattle, Beef cattle, Zebu, Gaur, Cattle breeds


Several market research studies have shown that consumers are primarily concerned with the provenance of the food they eat. Among the available identification methods, only DNA-based techniques appear able to completely prevent frauds. In this study, a new method to discriminate among different bovine breeds and assign new individuals to groups was developed. Bulls of three cattle breeds farmed in Italy - Holstein, Brown, and Simmental - were genotyped using the 50K SNP Illumina BeadChip. Multivariate canonical discriminant analysis was used to discriminate among breeds, and discriminant analysis (DA) was used to assign new observations. This method was able to completely identify the three groups at chromosome level. Moreover, a genome-wide analysis developed using 340 linearly independent SNPs yielded a significant separation among groups. Using the reduced set of markers, the DA was able to assign 30 independent individuals to the proper breed. Finally, a set of 48 high discriminant SNPs was selected and used to develop a new run of the analysis. Again, the procedure was able to significantly identify the three breeds and to correctly assign new observations. These results suggest that an assay with the selected 48 SNP could be used to routinely track monobreed products.

Concepts: Scientific method, Cattle, 2006 albums, Breed, Identification, Selection, Linear discriminant analysis, Marketing research


The Burmese is a breed of domestic cat that originated in Southeast Asia and was further developed in the United States. Variants in melanocortin 1 receptor (MC1R) causes common coat colour phenotypes in a variety of mammalian species but only limited colour variation in the domestic cat. Known as the extension (E) locus, melanocortin 1 receptor (MC1R) interacts with the agouti locus to produce the eumelanin and pheomelanin pigments. Recently, a novel reddish coloration, which is termed russet, was identified in the Burmese cat breed. Because this russet Burmese coloration changes with aging, MC1R was suggested as candidate gene. The similar colouration in specific lineages of Norwegian Forest cat known as amber (e) (c.250G>A; p.Asp84Asn) was excluded for this Burmese phenotype. The complete 954-bp coding region of MC1R was directly sequenced in russet Burmese and suspected carriers. A 3-bp deletion (c.439_441del) associated with the deletion of a phenyalanine (p.Phe146del) in the protein sequence was identified. All russet coloured cats were homozygous for the variant, and all obligate carriers were heterozygous, confirming that the deletion segregated concordantly with colouring in Burmese cats from the New Zealand foundation lineage. The variant was not identified in 442 cats from 26 different breeds and random-bred cats. Twenty-six Burmese from the USA did not have the variant. This MC1R variant defines a unique coloration and the second breed-specific MC1R variant in cats. The interactions of the two recessive feline MC1R alleles (E  >  e, e® ) is unknown.

Concepts: Protein, Gene, Mammal, New Zealand, Cat, Chromatophore, Maine Coon, Cat breeds


Ethiopia is an ecologically diverse country; the low altitude regions are hot and humid whereas the high altitude regions are cooler. In this study we analyzed the transcriptome response of high altitude (Addis Ababa) and low altitude (Awash) chickens to heat stress conditions that are prevalent in the low altitude regions. The chickens were free ranged for 20 h in an enclosure in Awash, and then the heart, breast muscle and spleen tissues were collected at 6:00 am, 12:00 noon and 6:00 pm to follow a daily circadian cycle. Through RNA-sequencing analysis, we identified differentially expressed genes (DEGs) that were significant (q < 0.05). These DEGs were subjected to protein-protein interaction (PPI) network and gene co-expression network (GCN) analyses to understand their role. KEGG pathway analysis and Gene Ontology analysis of all the identified DEGs and the genes identified from the PPI network and GCN analyses revealed that several immune-related pathways, such as proteasome, focal adhesion, influenza A, the ErbB signaling pathway and glycerophospholipid metabolism, were enriched in response to heat stress. These results suggest that the high altitude chickens were under heat stress and might be immunologically susceptible. Our findings will help in developing a genetic approach to mitigate production loss due to heat stress.