Genome-wide analysis reveals that the Cytochrome P450 Family 7 Subfamily B Member 1 (CYP7B1) gene is implicated in growth traits in Rasa Aragonesa ewes
Sheep are very well adapted to changing environments and are able to produce and reproduce with low inputs in feed and water better than other domestic ruminants. Indeed, the ewe body condition score (BCS) and live weight (LW) play a significant role in productive and reproductive performance. This work conducts a genome-wide association study (GWAS) to detect genetic
variants associated with growth traits in 225 adult ewes of the Rasa Aragonesa breed by using the genotypes from 50k and HD Illumina Ovine BeadChip. These ewes were measured for LW, BCS and growth rate (GR) for 2 years, from January to September. Corrected phenotypes for BCS, LW and GR were estimated and used as input for the GWAS. Only one single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) rs425509273 in chromosome 9 (OAR9), associated with the GR, overcame the genome-wise significance level. One, three and nine SNPs were associated at the chromosome-wise level (FDR 10%) for traits BCS, LW and GR, respectively. The CYP7B1 candidate gene, located 83 kb upstream from SNP rs425509273 in OAR9, was partial isolated and Sanger-sequenced. Fifteen polymorphisms comprising 12 SNPs, two indels and one polyC were detected in promoter, exon 1, 3, 5, and intron 1-3 region. The SNP association analysis of the polymorphisms located close to the transcription start site (TSS) showed that a 22 bp insertion located at -58 nucleotides from the TSS (indel (-58)), a polyC (-25), and two A/G SNPs (SNP3 (-114) and SNP5 (-63)), were associated with the GR trait, whereas only the indel (-58) was associated with the BCS trait. The haplotype analysis confirmed these results. The functional characterisation of the polymorphisms at CYP7B1 gene in liver by real-time quantitative PCR (RT-qPCR) analysis confirmed that the mutations in the promoter region affected CYP7B1 gene expression. Our results demonstrated the involvement of the CYP7B1 gene promoter on GR and BCS traits in Rasa Aragonesa. These findings suggest that variations in ovine CYP7B1 may serve as potential genetic markers to be used in breeding programmes to improve growth characteristics that could influence reproductive traits.