Johnsson M, Henriksen R, Höglund A, Fogelholm J, Jensen P, Wright D
BMC Genomics 19 (1) 72 [2018-01-23; online 2018-01-23]
The genetics underlying body mass and growth are key to understanding a wide range of topics in biology, both evolutionary and developmental. Body mass and growth traits are affected by many genetic variants of small effect. This complicates genetic mapping of growth and body mass. Experimental intercrosses between individuals from divergent populations allows us to map naturally occurring genetic variants for selected traits, such as body mass by linkage mapping. By simultaneously measuring traits and intermediary molecular phenotypes, such as gene expression, one can use integrative genomics to search for potential causative genes. In this study, we use linkage mapping approach to map growth traits (N = 471) and liver gene expression (N = 130) in an advanced intercross of wild Red Junglefowl and domestic White Leghorn layer chickens. We find 16 loci for growth traits, and 1463 loci for liver gene expression, as measured by microarrays. Of these, the genes TRAK1, OSBPL8, YEATS4, CEP55, and PIP4K2B are identified as strong candidates for growth loci in the chicken. We also show a high degree of sex-specific gene-regulation, with almost every gene expression locus exhibiting sex-interactions. Finally, several trans-regulatory hotspots were found, one of which coincides with a major growth locus. These findings not only serve to identify several strong candidates affecting growth, but also show how sex-specificity and local gene-regulation affect growth regulation in the chicken.
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