Using 1710 Thoroughbred racehorses in Japan, a cohort study was performed to evaluate the influence of genotypes at four single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) on equine chromosome 18 (ECA18), which were associated in a previous genome-wide association study for racing performance with lifetime earnings and performance rank. In males, both g.65809482T>C and g.65868604G>T were related to performance rank (P= 0.005). In females, g.65809482T>C (P = 1.76E-6), g.65868604G>T (P=6.81E-6) and g.66493737C>T (P=4.42E-5) were strongly related to performance rank and also to lifetime earnings (P < 0.05). When win-race distance (WRD) among all winning racehorses and best race distance (BRD) among elite racehorses were considered as the phenotypes, significant associations (P<0.001) were observed for all four SNPs. The favourable race distance of both elite (BRD) and novice racehorses (WRD) was also associated with genotypes in the ECA18 region, indicating the presence of a gene in this region influencing optimum race distance in Thoroughbred racehorses. Therefore, the association with performance rank is likely due to the bias in the race distances. The location of the SNPs within and proximal to the gene encoding myostatin (MSTN) strongly suggests that regulation of the MSTN gene affects racing performance. In particular, the g.65809482T>C, g.65868604G>T and g.66493737C>T SNPs, or their combinations, may be genetic diagnostic markers for racing performance indicators such as WRD and BRD.
© 2011 The Authors, Animal Genetics © 2011 Stichting International Foundation for Animal Genetics.