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Genes (Basel). 2019 Nov 21;10(12). pii: E954. doi: 10.3390/genes10120954.

Genomic Analysis of Spontaneous Abortion in Holstein Heifers and Primiparous Cows.

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Department of Animal Sciences and Center for Reproductive Biology, Washington State University, Pullman, WA 646310, USA.
Animal Sciences Research Center, Division of Animal Sciences, University of Missouri, Columbia, MO S158A, USA.
Department of Animal and Veterinary Sciences, University of Idaho, Caldwell, ID 1904 E, USA.



The objectives of this study were to identify loci, positional candidate genes, gene-sets, and pathways associated with spontaneous abortion (SA) in cattle and compare these results with previous human SA studies to determine if cattle are a good SA model for humans. Pregnancy was determined at gestation day 35 for Holstein heifers and cows. Genotypes from 43,984 SNPs of 499 pregnant heifers and 498 pregnant cows that calved at full term (FT) were compared to 62 heifers and 28 cows experiencing SA. A genome-wide association analysis, gene-set enrichment analysis-single nucleotide polymorphism, and ingenuity pathway analysis were used to identify regions, pathways, and master regulators associated with SA in heifers, cows, and a combined population.


Twenty-three loci and 21 positional candidate genes were associated (p < 1 × 10-5) with SA and one of these (KIR3DS1) has been associated with SA in humans. Eight gene-sets (NES > 3.0) were enriched in SA and one was previously reported as enriched in human SA. Four master regulators (p < 0.01) were associated with SA within two populations.


One locus associated with SA was validated and 39 positional candidate and leading-edge genes and 2 gene-sets were enriched in SA in cattle and in humans.


cattle; dairy; loci; spontaneous abortion

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