Complex genetic architecture of the chicken Growth1 QTL region.

Ou JH, Rönneburg T, Carlborg Ö, Honaker CF, Siegel PB, Rubin CJ

PLoS ONE 19 (5) e0295109 [2024-05-13; online 2024-05-13]

The genetic complexity of polygenic traits represents a captivating and intricate facet of biological inheritance. Unlike Mendelian traits controlled by a single gene, polygenic traits are influenced by multiple genetic loci, each exerting a modest effect on the trait. This cumulative impact of numerous genes, interactions among them, environmental factors, and epigenetic modifications results in a multifaceted architecture of genetic contributions to complex traits. Given the well-characterized genome, diverse traits, and range of genetic resources, chicken (Gallus gallus) was employed as a model organism to dissect the intricate genetic makeup of a previously identified major Quantitative Trait Loci (QTL) for body weight on chromosome 1. A multigenerational advanced intercross line (AIL) of 3215 chickens whose genomes had been sequenced to an average of 0.4x was analyzed using genome-wide association study (GWAS) and variance-heterogeneity GWAS (vGWAS) to identify markers associated with 8-week body weight. Additionally, epistatic interactions were studied using the natural and orthogonal interaction (NOIA) model. Six genetic modules, two from GWAS and four from vGWAS, were strongly associated with the studied trait. We found evidence of both additive- and non-additive interactions between these modules and constructed a putative local epistasis network for the region. Our screens for functional alleles revealed a missense variant in the gene ribonuclease H2 subunit B (RNASEH2B), which has previously been associated with growth-related traits in chickens and Darwin's finches. In addition, one of the most strongly associated SNPs identified is located in a non-coding region upstream of the long non-coding RNA, ENSGALG00000053256, previously suggested as a candidate gene for regulating chicken body weight. By studying large numbers of individuals from a family material using approaches to capture both additive and non-additive effects, this study advances our understanding of genetic complexities in a highly polygenic trait and has practical implications for poultry breeding and agriculture.

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NGI Uppsala (SNP&SEQ Technology Platform) [Service]

National Genomics Infrastructure [Service]

PubMed 38739572

DOI 10.1371/journal.pone.0295109

Crossref 10.1371/journal.pone.0295109

pmc: PMC11090294
pii: PONE-D-23-37785

Publications 9.5.0