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Meta-analysis of heifer traits identified reproductive pathways in bos indicus cattle

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Tahir, M. S., Porto-Neto, L. R., Gondro, C., Shittu, O. B., Wockner, K. B., Tan, A. W. L., Smith, H. R., Gouveia, G. C., Kour, J. and Fortes, M. R. S. (2021) Meta-analysis of heifer traits identified reproductive pathways in bos indicus cattle. Genes, 12 (5).

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Article Link: https://doi.org/10.3390/genes12050768


Fertility traits measured early in life define the reproductive potential of heifers. Knowledge of genetics and biology can help devise genomic selection methods to improve heifer fertility. In this study, we used ~2400 Brahman cattle to perform GWAS and multi-trait meta-analysis to determine genomic regions associated with heifer fertility. Heifer traits measured were pregnancy at first mating opportunity (PREG1, a binary trait), first conception score (FCS, score 1 to 3) and rebreeding score (REB, score 1 to 3.5). The heritability estimates were 0.17 (0.03) for PREG1, 0.11 (0.05) for FCS and 0.28 (0.05) for REB. The three traits were highly genetically correlated (0.75–0.83) as expected. Meta-analysis was performed using SNP effects estimated for each of the three traits, adjusted for standard error. We identified 1359 significant SNPs (p-value < 9.9 × 10−6 at FDR < 0.0001) in the multi-trait meta-analysis. Genomic regions of 0.5 Mb around each significant SNP from the meta-analysis were annotated to create a list of 2560 positional candidate genes. The most significant SNP was in the vicinity of a genomic region on chromosome 8, encompassing the genes SLC44A1, FSD1L, FKTN, TAL2 and TMEM38B. The genomic region in humans that contains homologs of these genes is associated with age at puberty in girls. Top significant SNPs pointed to additional fertility-related genes, again within a 0.5 Mb region, including ESR2, ITPR1, GNG2, RGS9BP, ANKRD27, TDRD12, GRM1, MTHFD1, PTGDR and NTNG1. Functional pathway enrichment analysis resulted in many positional candidate genes relating to known fertility pathways, including GnRH signaling, estrogen signaling, progesterone mediated oocyte maturation, cAMP signaling, calcium signaling, glutamatergic signaling, focal adhesion, PI3K-AKT signaling and ovarian steroidogenesis pathway. The comparison of results from this study with previous transcriptomics and proteomics studies on puberty of the same cattle breed (Brahman) but in a different population identified 392 genes in common from which some genes—BRAF, GABRA2, GABR1B, GAD1, FSHR, CNGA3, PDE10A, SNAP25, ESR2, GRIA2, ORAI1, EGFR, CHRNA5, VDAC2, ACVR2B, ORAI3, CYP11A1, GRIN2A, ATP2B3, CAMK2A, PLA2G, CAMK2D and MAPK3—are also part of the above-mentioned pathways. The biological functions of the positional candidate genes and their annotation to known pathways allowed integrating the results into a bigger picture of molecular mechanisms related to puberty in the hypothalamus–pituitary–ovarian axis. A reasonable number of genes, common between previous puberty studies and this study on early reproductive traits, corroborates the proposed molecular mechanisms. This study identified the polymorphism associated with early reproductive traits, and candidate genes that provided a visualization of the proposed mechanisms, coordinating the hypothalamic, pituitary, and ovarian functions for reproductive performance in Brahman cattle. © 2021 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.

Item Type:Article
Business groups:Animal Science
Additional Information:Open access
Keywords:Biological pathways Bos indicus Brahman cattle Fertility Gene ontology GWAS Hypothalamus Meta-analysis Ovary Pituitary Puberty animal bovine chromosome female genetics genome-wide association study genomics genotype growth, development and aging human meta analysis procedures quantitative trait locus reproduction sexual maturation signal transduction single nucleotide polymorphism Animals Cattle Chromosomes Humans Polymorphism, Single Nucleotide Quantitative Trait Loci
Subjects:Science > Biology > Genetics
Science > Biology > Reproduction
Animal culture > Breeding and breeds
Animal culture > Cattle
Live Archive:29 Nov 2021 00:40
Last Modified:29 Nov 2021 22:54

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