Genome-wide association analysis identifies the genetic basis of fat deposition in the tails of sheep (Ovis aries)
Xu, S.-S.; Ren, X.; Yang, G.-L.; Xie, X.-L.; Zhao, Y.-X.; Zhang, M.; Shen, Z.-O.; Ren, Y.-L.; Gao, L.; Kantanen, Juha; Li, M.-H. (2017)
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Fat-tailed sheep (Ovis aries) can survive in harsh environments and satisfy human’s intake of dietary fat. However, the animals require more feed, which increases the cost of farming. Thus, most farmers currently prefer thin-tailed, short-tailed or docked sheep. To date, the molecular mechanism of the formation of fat tails in sheep has not been completely elucidated. Here, we conducted a genome-wide association study using phenotypes and genotypes (the Ovine Infinium HD SNP BeadChip genotype data) of two breeds of contrasting tail types (78 Small-tailed and 78 Large-tailed Han sheep breeds) to identify functional genes and variants associated with fat deposition. We identified four significantly (rs416433540, rs409848439, rs408118325 and rs402128848) and three approximately associated autosomal SNPs (rs401248376, rs402445895 and rs416201901). Gene annotation indicated that the surrounding genes (CREB1, STEAP4, CTBP1 and RIP140, also known as NRIP1) function in lipid storage or fat cell regulation. Furthermore, through an X-chromosome-wide association analysis, we detected significantly associated SNPs in the OARX: 88–89 Mb region, which could be a strong candidate genomic region for fat deposition in tails of sheep. Our results represent a new genomic resource for sheep genetics and breeding. In addition, the findings provide novel insights into genetic mechanisms of fat deposition in the tail of sheep and other mammals.
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