Multitrait meta-analysis identified genomic regions associated with sexual precocity in tropical beef cattle
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Multitrait meta-analyses are a strategy to produce more accurate genome-wide association studies, especially for complex phenotypes. We carried out a meta-analysis study for traits related to sexual precocity in tropical beef cattle (Nellore and Brahman) aiming to identify important genomic regions affecting these traits. The traits included in the analyses were age at first calving (AFC), early pregnancy (EP), age at first corpus luteum (AGECL), first postpartum anoestrus interval (PPAI), and scrotal circumference (SC). The traits AFC, EP, and SCN were measured in Nellore cattle, while AGECL, PPAI, and SCB were measured in Brahman cattle. Metaanalysis resulted in 108 significant single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs), at an empirical threshold P-value of 1.39 × 10-5 (false discovery rate [FDR] < 0.05). Within 0.5 Mb of the significant SNP, candidate genes were annotated and analyzed for functional enrichment. Most of the closest genes to the SNP with higher significance in each chromosome have been associated with important roles in reproductive function. They are TSC22D2, KLF7, ARHGAP29, 7SK, MAP3K5, TLE3, WDR5, TAF3, TMEM68, PPP1R15B, NR2F2, GALR1, SUFU, and KCNU1. We did not observe any significant SNP in BTA5, BTA12, BTA17, BTA18, BTA19, BTA20, BTA22, BTA23, BTA25, and BTA28. Although the majority of significant SNPs are in BTA14, it was identified significant associations in multiple chromosomes (19 out of 29 autosomes), which is consistent with the postulation that reproductive traits are complex polygenic phenotypes. Five proposed association regions harbor the majority of the significant SNP (76%) and were distributed over four chromosomes (P < 1.39 × 10-5, FDR < 0.05): BTA2 (5.55%) from 95 to 96 Mb, BTA4 (5.55%) from 94.1 to 94.8 Mb, BTA14 (59.26%) from 24 to 25 Mb and 29 to 30 Mb, and BTA21 (5.55%) from 6.7 Mb to 11.4 Mb. These regions harbored key genes related to reproductive function. Moreover, these genes were enriched for functional groups associated with immune response, maternal-fetal tolerance, pregnancy maintenance, embryo development, fertility, and response to stress. Further studies including other breeds and precocity traits could confirm the importance of these regions and identify new candidate regions for sexual precocity in beef cattle.
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