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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2002 Jul 9;99(14):9300-5. Epub 2002 Jun 20.

Association of a lysine-232/alanine polymorphism in a bovine gene encoding acyl-CoA:diacylglycerol acyltransferase (DGAT1) with variation at a quantitative trait locus for milk fat content.

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  • 1Lehrstuhl für Tierzucht der Technischen Universität München, 85350 Freising-Weihenstephan, Germany.


DGAT1 encodes diacylglycerol O-acyltransferase (EC ), a microsomal enzyme that catalyzes the final step of triglyceride synthesis. It became a functional candidate gene for lactation traits after studies indicated that mice lacking both copies of DGAT1 are completely devoid of milk secretion, most likely because of deficient triglyceride synthesis in the mammary gland. Our mapping studies placed DGAT1 close to the region of a quantitative trait locus (QTL) on bovine chromosome 14 for variation in fat content of milk. Sequencing of DGAT1 from pooled DNA revealed significant frequency shifts at several variable positions between groups of animals with high and low breeding values for milk fat content in different breeds (Holstein-Friesian, Fleckvieh, and Braunvieh). Among the variants was a nonconservative substitution of lysine by alanine (K232A), with the lysine-encoding allele being associated with higher milk fat content. Haplotype analysis indicated the lysine variant to be ancestral. Two animals that were typed heterozygous (Qq) at the QTL based on marker-assisted QTL-genotyping were heterozygous for the K232A substitution, whereas 14 animals that are most likely qq at the QTL were homozygous for the alanine-encoding allele. An independent association study in Fleckvieh animals confirmed the positive effect of the lysine variant on milk fat content. We consider the nonconservative K232A substitution to be directly responsible for the QTL variation, although our genetic studies cannot provide formal proof.

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