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Anim Genet. 2002 Apr;33(2):123-31.

Investigation of candidate genes for meat quality in dry-cured ham production: the porcine cathepsin B (CTSB) and cystatin B (CSTB) genes.

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  • 1DIPROVAL, Sezione di Allevamenti Zootecnici, Faculty of Agriculture, University of Bologna, Via F.lli Rosselli, Villa Levi - Coviolo, Reggio Emilia, Italy.


Excessive softness is a serious defect of dry cured hams which seems related to high activity of lysosomal cysteine proteinases, such as cathepsin B, in fresh pork muscles a few days after slaughtering. As it has been shown that cathepsin B activity has a moderate heritability in Italian Large White pigs we started a candidate gene approach to identify the gene(s) that affect(s) this parameter. Here, we studied two candidate genes: cathepsin B (CTSB) and cystatin B (CSTB). We amplified and sequenced porcine DNA fragments for these two genes that were used to identify polymorphisms by SSCP and polymerase chain reaction-restriction fragment length polymorphism (PCR-RFLP) analysis. Four and two alleles were detected at the CTSB and CSTB loci, respectively. Sequencing of the CSTB alleles showed a missense mutation that changes a codon for aspartic acid into a codon for asparagine in exon 3 of the gene. Allele frequencies for the two loci differed among the pig breeds studied (Large White, Landrace, Duroc, Belgian Landrace, Hampshire, PiƩtrain, Meishan, Cinta Senese, Casertana, Calabrese and Nero di Sicilia). Linkage, somatic cell hybrid panel and radiation hybrid panel analyses assigned CTSB to porcine chromosome (Sscr) 14 and CSTB to Sscr 13. The markers identified at the CTSB and CSTB loci were used in association studies with several traits of economic importance including parameters that may indicate the suitability of pig meat to produce dry-cured hams. Significant associations were observed between CTSB and back-fat thickness and between CSTB and average daily gain. In this study, cathepsin B activity was not associated with the polymorphisms identified at the CTSB and CSTB loci.

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