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Front Genet. 2012 Aug 29;3:164. doi: 10.3389/fgene.2012.00164. eCollection 2012.

Genes contributing to genetic variation of muscling in sheep.

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  • 1Division of Animal, Food and Health Sciences, Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation St Lucia, QLD, Australia.


Selective breeding programs aiming to increase the productivity and profitability of the sheep meat industry use elite, progeny tested sires. The broad genetic traits of primary interest in the progeny of these sires include skeletal muscle yield, fat content, eating quality, and reproductive efficiency. Natural mutations in sheep that enhance muscling have been identified, while a number of genome scans have identified and confirmed quantitative trait loci (QTL) for skeletal muscle traits. The detailed phenotypic characteristics of sheep carrying these mutations or QTL affecting skeletal muscle show a number of common biological themes, particularly changes in developmental growth trajectories, alterations of whole animal morphology, and a shift toward fast twitch glycolytic fibers. The genetic, developmental, and biochemical mechanisms underpinning the actions of some of these genetic variants are described. This review critically assesses this research area, identifies gaps in knowledge, and highlights mechanistic linkages between genetic polymorphisms and skeletal muscle phenotypic changes. This knowledge may aid the discovery of new causal genetic variants and in some cases lead to the development of biochemical and immunological strategies aimed at enhancing skeletal muscle.


Callipyge; gene; imprinting; myostatin; sheep; skeletal muscle

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