The ACACA gene is a potential candidate gene for fat content in sheep milk

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No major gene has yet been reported in sheep that explains the variation of milk fat content. The coding region of the acetyl-CoA carboxylase alpha (ACACA) gene, which plays an important role in de novo fatty acid synthesis, had been investigated, but no non-synonymous mutations have been reported. In this study, the genomic regions encoding the three promoters of the ACACA gene were directly sequenced in 264 sheep of three different breeds, and 10 SNPs were identified. Allele frequencies of most SNPs significantly differed (P = 0.05–0.0001) between breeds. The SNPs that potentially altered either gene regulatory elements or putative binding sites of transcription factors were made evident through in silico analysis. The association analysis with milk traits, performed for one SNP of PIII (GenBank AJ292286, g.1330G>T), showed a significant allelic substitution effect (+0.33%, P < 0.0001 and +0.35%, P < 0.01) in the Altamurana and Gentile breeds respectively. Because this SNP was located in the binding site of the paired box protein transcription factors, which was shown to function as an efficient promoter element, and because PIII transcripts are expressed in the mammary gland, the SNP in PIII of the ACACA gene might affect the variation of fat content in sheep milk.

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