Serial translocation by means of circular intermediates underlies colour sidedness in cattle

Nature. 2012 Feb 1;482(7383):81-4. doi: 10.1038/nature10757.


Colour sidedness is a dominantly inherited phenotype of cattle characterized by the polarization of pigmented sectors on the flanks, snout and ear tips. It is also referred to as 'lineback' or 'witrik' (which means white back), as colour-sided animals typically display a white band along their spine. Colour sidedness is documented at least since the Middle Ages and is presently segregating in several cattle breeds around the globe, including in Belgian blue and brown Swiss. Here we report that colour sidedness is determined by a first allele on chromosome 29 (Cs(29)), which results from the translocation of a 492-kilobase chromosome 6 segment encompassing KIT to chromosome 29, and a second allele on chromosome 6 (Cs(6)), derived from the first by repatriation of fused 575-kilobase chromosome 6 and 29 sequences to the KIT locus. We provide evidence that both translocation events involved circular intermediates. This is the first example, to our knowledge, of a phenotype determined by homologous yet non-syntenic alleles that result from a novel copy-number-variant-generating mechanism.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Alleles
  • Animals
  • Cattle / classification
  • Cattle / genetics*
  • Chromosome Mapping
  • Chromosomes, Mammalian / genetics*
  • DNA Copy Number Variations / genetics
  • Gene Duplication / genetics
  • Gene Fusion / genetics
  • Genome-Wide Association Study
  • Genotype
  • Hair Color / genetics*
  • In Situ Hybridization, Fluorescence
  • Phenotype
  • Polymorphism, Single Nucleotide / genetics
  • Translocation, Genetic / genetics*