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The objective of this work was to characterize the complete coding region of the ovine acylCoA:diacylglycerol acyltransferase 1 (DGAT1) gene of three Italian sheep breeds: Sarda, Altamurana and Gentile di Puglia. Characterization was accomplished by direct sequencing of 8676 bp of the relevant DNA, including introns and partial 5′ and 3′ untranslated regions (UTRs). We detected five novel SNPs; one SNP (g.5553C>T) is located in intron 2, has similar frequencies in the three breeds and showed a negative association with milk fat content. More interesting is an SNP in the 5′ UTR (g.127C>A), the occurrence of which is rare in the higher milk-fat breeds (Altamurana and Gentile di Puglia); it is located in the core sequence of Sp1, a putative binding site of transcription factors. This SNP showed a significant negative association with milk fat content in the Sarda sheep. Because DGAT1 plays a fundamental role in triacylglycerol synthesis, the novel detected SNP in the 5′ UTR of the DGAT1 gene might explain, at least partially, the variation of fat content in the milk of Sarda sheep.