A QTL for the Degree of Spotting in Cattle Shows Synteny With the KIT Locus on Chromosome 6

J Hered. Nov-Dec 1999;90(6):629-34. doi: 10.1093/jhered/90.6.629.


The proportion of unpigmented coat on the trunk was determined from photographs of 38 German Simmental and 627 German Holstein bulls distributed over three generations. All 665 animals were members of 18 Holstein and 3 Simmental half-sib families. A Bayesian estimation of heritability yielded a posterior mean of 0.88 and a standard error of 0.08. A quantitative trait loci (QTL) scan over all chromosomes covered by 229 microsatellite marker loci (2926 cM) was performed by fitting a multiple marker regression model to 625 observations from the youngest generation in 18 families. On chromosome 6 a QTL for the proportion of white coat with large effects (experiment-wise error probability < .0001) was found and a less important one on chromosome 3 (chromosome-wise error probability < .009). Chromosome 6 is known to harbor the KIT locus (receptor tyrosinase kinase), which is associated with various depigmentation phenotypes in mice, humans, and pigs. Similarity of phenotypic KIT effects in other species and synteny with the reported QTL suggest that KIT is a serious candidate gene for the degree of spotting in cattle. The results are also discussed with respect to resistance to solar radiation, heat stress, and photosensitization.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cattle / genetics*
  • Chromosome Mapping / veterinary*
  • Mice
  • Quantitative Trait, Heritable*
  • Receptor Protein-Tyrosine Kinases / genetics*
  • Skin Pigmentation / genetics*


  • Receptor Protein-Tyrosine Kinases