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Asian-Australas J Anim Sci > Accepted Articles
DOI: https://doi.org/10.5713/ajas.19.0549    [Accepted] Published online February 25, 2020.
Association of UDP-galactose-4-epimerase (GALE) with milk protein concentration in the Chinese Holstein population
Cong Li1  , Wentao Cai2  , Shuli Liu2  , Chenghao Zhou2  , Mingyue Cao2  , Hongwei Yin2  , Dongxiao Sun2  , Shengli Zhang2,*  , Juan J. Loor3,* 
1Shaanxi Key Laboratory of Molecular Biology for Agriculture, College of Animal Science and Technology, Northwest A&F University, Yangling, Shaanxi 712100, China
2College of Animal Science and Technology, Key Laboratory of Animal Genetics and Breeding of Ministry of Agriculture, National Engineering Laboratory for Animal Breeding, China Agricultural University, Beijing 100193, China
3Mammalian NutriPhysioGenomics, Department of Animal Sciences and Division of Nutritional Sciences, University of Illinois, Urbana, Illinois 61801, United States
Correspondence:  Shengli Zhang,Email: sundx@cau.edu.cn
Juan J. Loor, Tel: +1-217-244-5957, Fax: +1-217-333-5044, Email: loor@illinois.edu
Received: 8 July 2019   • Revised: 29 September 2019   • Accepted: 14 February 2020
An initial RNA-Sequencing study revealed that UDP-galactose-4-epimerase (GALE) was one of the most promising candidates for milk protein concentration in Chinese Holstein cattle. This enzyme catalyzes the interconversion of UDP-galactose and UDP-glucose, an important step in galactose catabolism. To further validate the genetic effect of GALE on milk protein traits, genetic variations were identified and genotypes-phenotypes associations were performed.
The entire coding region and the 5’-regulatory region (5’-UTR) of GALE were re-sequenced using pooled DNA of 17 unrelated sires. Association studies for five milk production traits were performed using a mixed linear animal model with a population encompassing 1,027 Chinese Holstein cows.
A total of three variants in GALE were identified, including two novel variants (g.2114 A>G and g.2037 G>A) in the 5’-UTR and one previously reported variant (g.3836 G>C) in an intron. All three single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) were associated with milk yield (P < 0.0001), fat yield (P = 0.0006 ~ < 0.0001), protein yield (P = 0.0232 ~ < 0.0001) and protein percentage (P < 0.0001), while no significant associations were detected between the SNPs and fat percentage. A strong linkage disequilibrium (D’ = 0.96 ~ 1.00) was observed among all three SNPs, and a 5 Kb haplotype block involving three main haplotypes with GAG, AGC and AGG was formed. The results of haplotype association analyses were consistent with the results of single locus association analysis (P < 0.0001). The phenotypic variance ratio above 3.00% was observed for milk protein yield that was explained by SNP-g.3836G>C.
Overall, our findings provided new insights into the polymorphic variations in bovine GALE gene and their associations with milk protein concentration. The data indicate their potential uses for marker-assisted breeding or genetic selection schemes.
Keywords: Milk Protein Traits; GALE Gene; Genetic Effect; Haplotype; Dairy Cattle
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