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PLoS One. 2010 Jan 20;5(1):e8645. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0008645.

A sequence polymorphism in MSTN predicts sprinting ability and racing stamina in thoroughbred horses.

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Animal Genomics Laboratory, School of Agriculture, Food Science and Veterinary Medicine, University College Dublin, Dublin, Ireland.

Erratum in

  • PLoS One. 2010;5(1). doi: 10.1371/annotation/de9e11b9-eb92-4ee5-a56a-908e06d1ed6c. MacHugh, David [corrected to MacHugh, David E].


Variants of the MSTN gene encoding myostatin are associated with muscle hypertrophy phenotypes in a range of mammalian species, most notably cattle, dogs, mice, and humans. Using a sample of registered Thoroughbred horses (n = 148), we have identified a novel MSTN sequence polymorphism that is strongly associated (g.66493737C>T, P = 4.85x10(-8)) with best race distance among elite racehorses (n = 79). This observation was independently validated (P = 1.91x10(-6)) in a resampled group of Thoroughbreds (n = 62) and in a cohort of Thoroughbreds (n = 37, P = 0.0047) produced by the same trainer. We observed that C/C horses are suited to fast, short-distance races; C/T horses compete favorably in middle-distance races; and T/T horses have greater stamina. Evaluation of retrospective racecourse performance (n = 142) and stallion progeny performance predict that C/C and C/T horses are more likely to be successful two-year-old racehorses than T/T animals. Here we describe for the first time the identification of a gene variant in Thoroughbred racehorses that is predictive of genetic potential for an athletic phenotype.

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