Molecular Cloning of the B4GALNT2 Gene and Its Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms Association with Litter Size in Small Tail Han Sheep

Animals (Basel). 2018 Sep 20;8(10):160. doi: 10.3390/ani8100160.


A new fecundity gene named the FecL (mutation), which regulates the ovulation rate, was discovered in French Lacaune sheep. The B4GALNT2 (beta-1, 4-N-acetyl-galactosaminyl transferase 2) gene was considered as the potential FecL mutation gene. This study explores whether the effect of the FecL mutation exists in other sheep breeds, and the features of the B4GALNT2 gene in terms of the molecular structure and its expression profile. Using Sanger sequencing, we found that high and low fecundity breeds from among 11 measured sheep breeds all had no variation in the three specific mutation sites, which were linked with the FecL mutation. However, two mutations of g.36946470C > T and g.36933082C > T in the exon of B4GALNT2 had a significant effect on litter size in the first parity for Small Tail Han (STH) Sheep (p < 0.05). Two transcription start sites (TSS) of B4GALNT2 in its 5'-flanking region were discovered in ovine granule cells in vitro, through the RACE (Rapid amplification of cDNA ends) method. Except for in the kidney and oviduct, no significant difference in expression levels had been found between STH sheep and Tan sheep breeds. The B4GALNT2 gene, as a candidate for FecL, may have a relationship with the differences in litter size in STH sheep. B4GALNT2 is mainly expressed in the ovine ovary, which also suggests that B4GALNT2 plays an important role in sheep reproduction.

Keywords: B4GALNT2 gene; FecL mutation; RACE; expression profile; litter size.