Effects of vertebral number variations on carcass traits and genotyping of Vertnin candidate gene in Kazakh sheep

  • Zhang, Zhifeng (State Key Laboratory of Desert and Oasis Ecology, Xinjiang Institute of Ecology and Geography, Chinese Academy of Sciences) ;
  • Sun, Yawei (Institute of Animal Biotechnology, Xinjiang Academy of Animal Science) ;
  • Du, Wei (Institute of Animal Biotechnology, Xinjiang Academy of Animal Science) ;
  • He, Sangang (Institute of Animal Biotechnology, Xinjiang Academy of Animal Science) ;
  • Liu, Mingjun (Institute of Animal Biotechnology, Xinjiang Academy of Animal Science) ;
  • Tian, Changyan (State Key Laboratory of Desert and Oasis Ecology, Xinjiang Institute of Ecology and Geography, Chinese Academy of Sciences)
  • Received : 2016.12.14
  • Accepted : 2017.03.21
  • Published : 2017.09.01


Objective: The vertebral number is associated with body length and carcass traits, which represents an economically important trait in farm animals. The variation of vertebral number has been observed in a few mammalian species. However, the variation of vertebral number and quantitative trait loci in sheep breeds have not been well addressed. Methods: In our investigation, the information including gender, age, carcass weight, carcass length and the number of thoracic and lumbar vertebrae from 624 China Kazakh sheep was collected. The effect of vertebral number variation on carcass weight and carcass length was estimated by general linear model. Further, the polymorphic sites of Vertnin (VRTN) gene were identified by sequencing, and the association of the genotype and vertebral number variation was analyzed by the one-way analysis of variance model. Results: The variation of thoracolumbar vertebrae number in Kazakh sheep (18 to 20) was smaller than that in Texel sheep (17 to 21). The individuals with 19 thoracolumbar vertebrae (T13L6) were dominant in Kazakh sheep (79.2%). The association study showed that the numbers of thoracolumbar vertebrae were positively correlated with the carcass length and carcass weight, statistically significant with carcass length. To investigate the association of thoracolumbar vertebrae number with VRTN gene, we genotyped the VRTN gene. A total of 9 polymorphic sites were detected and only a single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) (rs426367238) was suggested to associate with thoracic vertebral number statistically. Conclusion: The variation of thoracolumbar vertebrae number positively associated with the carcass length and carcass weight, especially with the carcass length. VRTN gene polymorphism of the SNP (rs426367238) with significant effect on thoracic vertebral number could be as a candidate marker to further evaluate its role in influence of thoracolumbar vertebral number.


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