In dairy cattle, quantitative trait nucleotides (QTNs) underlying quantitative trait loci (QTL) for milk production traits have been identified in bovine DGAT1, GHR and ABCG2 genes. The SPP1 gene has also been proposed to be a regulator of lactation. In sheep, QTL underlying milk production traits have been reported only recently, and no proven QTN has been identified. Taking into account the close phylogenetic relationship between sheep and cattle, this study examined the possible effects of the aforementioned genes on sheep milk production traits. We first studied the genetic variability of the DGAT1, GHR, ABCG2 and SPP1 genes in 15 rams of the Spanish Churra dairy sheep breed. Second, we performed an association analysis between SNPs identified in these genes and three milk production traits recorded in a commercial population of Churra sheep. This analysis revealed only three significant associations at the nominal level (P-value <0.05) involving allelic variants of the ABCG2 gene, whereas no significant association was found for the DGAT1, GHR and SPP1 genes. When the Bonferroni correction was applied to take into account the multiple tests performed, none of the associations identified at the nominal level remained significant. Nevertheless, taking into account the high level of false-negative findings that can arise when applying the stringent Bonferroni correction, we think that our results provide a valuable primary assessment of strong candidate genes for milk traits in sheep.
© 2011 The Authors, Animal Genetics © 2011 Stichting International Foundation for Animal Genetics.