Targeted genotyping to identify potential functional variants associated with cholesterol content in bovine milk

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SummaryHigh blood cholesterol concentration, mainly caused by high dietary cholesterol, is a potential risk factor for human health. Dairy products are important sources of human dietary cholesterol intake. Therefore, monitoring bovine milk cholesterol concentration is important for human health benefit. Genetic selection for improvement of cow milk cholesterol content requires understanding of the genetics of milk cholesterol. For this purpose, we performed analyses of additive and dominance effects of 126 potentially functional SNPs within 43 candidate genes with milk cholesterol content [expressed as mg of cholesterol in 100 g of fat (CHL_fat) or in 100 mg of milk (CHL_milk)]. The additive and dominance effects of SNPs rs380643365 in AGPAT1 (P = 0.04) and rs134357240 in SOAT1 (P = 0.035) genes associated significantly with CHL_fat. Moreover, five (rs109326954 and rs523413537 in DGAT1, rs109376747 in LDLR, rs42781651 in FAM198B and rs109967779 in ACAT2) and four (rs137347384 in RBM19, rs109376747 in LDLR, rs42016945 in PPARG and rs110862179 in SCAP) SNPs were significantly associated with CHL_milk (P < 0.05) based on additive and dominance effect analyses respectively. Rs109326954 and rs523413537 in DGAT1 explained a considerable portion of the phenotypic variance of CHL_milk (7.54 and 6.84% respectively), and might be useful in selection programs for reduced milk cholesterol content. Several significantly associated SNPs were in genes (such as ACAT2 and LDLR) involved in cholesterol metabolism in the liver or cholesterol transport, suggesting multiple mechanisms regulating milk cholesterol content. Nine and seven SNPs identified by additive or dominance effect analyses associated significantly with milk yield and fat yield respectively. Further analyses are required to better understand the consequences of these variants and their potential use in genomic selection of the studied traits.

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