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Multi-breed and multi-trait co-association analysis of meat tenderness and other meat quality traits in three French beef cattle breeds

Abstract : BackgroundStudies to identify markers associated with beef tenderness have focused on Warner–Bratzler shear force (WBSF) but the interplay between the genes associated with WBSF has not been explored. We used the association weight matrix (AWM), a systems biology approach, to identify a set of interacting genes that are co-associated with tenderness and other meat quality traits, and shared across the Charolaise, Limousine and Blonde d’Aquitaine beef cattle breeds.ResultsGenome-wide association studies were performed using ~500K single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) and 17 phenotypes measured on more than 1000 animals for each breed. First, this multi-trait approach was applied separately for each breed across 17 phenotypes and second, between- and across-breed comparisons at the AWM and functional levels were performed. Genetic heterogeneity was observed, and most of the variants that were associated with WBSF segregated within rather than across breeds. We identified 206 common candidate genes associated with WBSF across the three breeds. SNPs in these common genes explained between 28 and 30 % of the phenotypic variance for WBSF. A reduced number of common SNPs mapping to the 206 common genes were identified, suggesting that different mutations may target the same genes in a breed-specific manner. Therefore, it is likely that, depending on allele frequencies and linkage disequilibrium patterns, a SNP that is identified for one breed may not be informative for another unrelated breed. Well-known candidate genes affecting beef tenderness were identified. In addition, some of the 206 common genes are located within previously reported quantitative trait loci for WBSF in several cattle breeds. Moreover, the multi-breed co-association analysis detected new candidate genes, regulators and metabolic pathways that are likely involved in the determination of meat tenderness and other meat quality traits in beef cattle.ConclusionsOur results suggest that systems biology approaches that explore associations of correlated traits increase statistical power to identify candidate genes beyond the one-dimensional approach. Further studies on the 206 common genes, their pathways, regulators and interactions will expand our knowledge on the molecular basis of meat tenderness and could lead to the discovery of functional mutations useful for genomic selection in a multi-breed beef cattle context.
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Yuliaxis Ramayo-Caldas, Gilles Renand, Maria Ballester, Romain Saintilan, Dominique Rocha. Multi-breed and multi-trait co-association analysis of meat tenderness and other meat quality traits in three French beef cattle breeds. Genetics Selection Evolution, 2016, 48 (1), pp.37. ⟨10.1186/s12711-016-0216-y⟩. ⟨hal-01341371⟩

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