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, 40 (4), 359-65

Evaluation of SPATA1-associated Markers for Stallion Fertility


Evaluation of SPATA1-associated Markers for Stallion Fertility

K Giesecke et al. Anim Genet.


Stallion fertility is an economically important trait because the use of artificial insemination is increasing in the horse industry and superior sires are used more intensely. Molecular genetic markers may be useful as early indicators for a stallion's fertility and genetic improvement programmes. The testis-specific SPATA1 protein is involved in shaping the sperm head during spermatogenesis. Thus, the spermatogenesis associated 1 (SPATA1) gene was chosen as candidate for stallion fertility, and we analysed intragenic single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) as genetic markers for the least square means (LSM) of the pregnancy rate per oestrus of stallions and breeding values (BV) for the paternal and embryonic component of the pregnancy rate per oestrus. We sequenced the cDNA of SPATA1 to verify the annotated mRNA sequence. One SPATA1-associated intronic SNP (BIEC2-968854) showed a significant association with the embryonic component of BVs of stallions for the pregnancy rate per oestrus. The embryonic component of BVs was positively associated with homozygous C/C stallions. Both the additive and dominance effects were significant with values of -5.8% (P = 0.01) and -6.4% (P = 0.02) for the embryonic component of BVs. For the same SNP, a suggestive association was found for the LSM of the pregnancy rate per oestrus of stallions. Heterozygous stallions had higher pregnancy rates per oestrus than homozygous stallions. The dominance effect was 4.1% with a nominal P-value of 0.02. The SNP BIEC2-968854 can change an SP1 binding site and thus we assume that gene regulation may be influenced through this intronic mutation. This is the first report on SPATA1 being associated with the pregnancy rate per oestrus for stallions.

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