Fishy taint in chicken eggs is associated with a substitution within a conserved motif of the FMO3 gene

Genomics. 2005 Aug;86(2):225-32. doi: 10.1016/j.ygeno.2005.04.005.


Fishy odor of urine and other secretions is a characteristic of trimethylaminuria in humans, resulting from loss-of-function mutations in the flavin-containing mono-oxygenase isoform FMO3. A similar phenotype exists in cattle, in which a nonsense mutation in the bovine orthologue causes fishy off-flavor in cow's milk. The fishy odor is caused by an elevated level of excreted odorous trimethylamine (TMA), due to deficient oxidation of TMA. We report the mapping of a similar disorder (fishy taint of eggs) and the chicken FMO3 gene to chicken chromosome 8. The only nonsynonymous mutation identified in the chicken FMO3 gene (T329S) changes an evolutionarily highly conserved amino acid and is associated with elevated levels of TMA and fishy taint in the egg yolk in several chicken lines. No differences in the expression of FMO3 were found among individuals with different associated genotypes, indicating that the trait is not caused by a linked polymorphism causing altered expression of the gene. The results support the importance and function of the evolutionarily conserved motif FATGY, which has been speculated to be a substrate recognition pocket of N-hydroxylating siderophore enzymes and flavin-containing mono-oxygenases.

MeSH terms

  • Alleles
  • Amino Acid Motifs
  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Animals
  • Chickens
  • Chromosome Mapping
  • Codon, Nonsense
  • Conserved Sequence
  • DNA, Complementary / metabolism
  • Egg Yolk / metabolism
  • Eggs
  • Evolution, Molecular
  • Gene Frequency
  • Genetic Linkage*
  • Genome, Human
  • Genotype
  • Humans
  • Methylamines / metabolism
  • Methylamines / urine*
  • Mixed Function Oxygenases / metabolism
  • Models, Genetic
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Mutation
  • Odorants
  • Oxygen / metabolism
  • Oxygenases / chemistry*
  • Oxygenases / genetics*
  • Phenotype
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Polymorphism, Genetic
  • Protein Isoforms
  • RNA / metabolism
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism
  • Sequence Homology, Amino Acid
  • Transcription, Genetic


  • Codon, Nonsense
  • DNA, Complementary
  • Methylamines
  • Protein Isoforms
  • RNA, Messenger
  • RNA
  • Mixed Function Oxygenases
  • Oxygenases
  • dimethylaniline monooxygenase (N-oxide forming)
  • trimethylamine
  • Oxygen