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author:("naudin, Mark")
1.  A genome-wide association study demonstrates significant genetic variation for fracture risk in Thoroughbred racehorses 
BMC Genomics  2014;15:147.
Background
Thoroughbred racehorses are subject to non-traumatic distal limb bone fractures that occur during racing and exercise. Susceptibility to fracture may be due to underlying disturbances in bone metabolism which have a genetic cause. Fracture risk has been shown to be heritable in several species but this study is the first genetic analysis of fracture risk in the horse.
Results
Fracture cases (n = 269) were horses that sustained catastrophic distal limb fractures while racing on UK racecourses, necessitating euthanasia. Control horses (n = 253) were over 4 years of age, were racing during the same time period as the cases, and had no history of fracture at the time the study was carried out. The horses sampled were bred for both flat and National Hunt (NH) jump racing. 43,417 SNPs were employed to perform a genome-wide association analysis and to estimate the proportion of genetic variance attributable to the SNPs on each chromosome using restricted maximum likelihood (REML). Significant genetic variation associated with fracture risk was found on chromosomes 9, 18, 22 and 31. Three SNPs on chromosome 18 (62.05 Mb – 62.15 Mb) and one SNP on chromosome 1 (14.17 Mb) reached genome-wide significance (p < 0.05) in a genome-wide association study (GWAS). Two of the SNPs on ECA 18 were located in a haplotype block containing the gene zinc finger protein 804A (ZNF804A). One haplotype within this block has a protective effect (controls at 1.95 times less risk of fracture than cases, p = 1 × 10-4), while a second haplotype increases fracture risk (cases at 3.39 times higher risk of fracture than controls, p = 0.042).
Conclusions
Fracture risk in the Thoroughbred horse is a complex condition with an underlying genetic basis. Multiple genomic regions contribute to susceptibility to fracture risk. This suggests there is the potential to develop SNP-based estimators for genetic risk of fracture in the Thoroughbred racehorse, using methods pioneered in livestock genetics such as genomic selection. This information would be useful to racehorse breeders and owners, enabling them to reduce the risk of injury in their horses.
doi:10.1186/1471-2164-15-147
PMCID: PMC4008154  PMID: 24559379
Fracture risk; Horse; Genome-wide association; Genetic variation
2.  The utility of low-density genotyping for imputation in the Thoroughbred horse 
Background
Despite the dramatic reduction in the cost of high-density genotyping that has occurred over the last decade, it remains one of the limiting factors for obtaining the large datasets required for genomic studies of disease in the horse. In this study, we investigated the potential for low-density genotyping and subsequent imputation to address this problem.
Results
Using the haplotype phasing and imputation program, BEAGLE, it is possible to impute genotypes from low- to high-density (50K) in the Thoroughbred horse with reasonable to high accuracy. Analysis of the sources of variation in imputation accuracy revealed dependence both on the minor allele frequency of the single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) being imputed and on the underlying linkage disequilibrium structure. Whereas equidistant spacing of the SNPs on the low-density panel worked well, optimising SNP selection to increase their minor allele frequency was advantageous, even when the panel was subsequently used in a population of different geographical origin. Replacing base pair position with linkage disequilibrium map distance reduced the variation in imputation accuracy across SNPs. Whereas a 1K SNP panel was generally sufficient to ensure that more than 80% of genotypes were correctly imputed, other studies suggest that a 2K to 3K panel is more efficient to minimize the subsequent loss of accuracy in genomic prediction analyses. The relationship between accuracy and genotyping costs for the different low-density panels, suggests that a 2K SNP panel would represent good value for money.
Conclusions
Low-density genotyping with a 2K SNP panel followed by imputation provides a compromise between cost and accuracy that could promote more widespread genotyping, and hence the use of genomic information in horses. In addition to offering a low cost alternative to high-density genotyping, imputation provides a means to combine datasets from different genotyping platforms, which is becoming necessary since researchers are starting to use the recently developed equine 70K SNP chip. However, more work is needed to evaluate the impact of between-breed differences on imputation accuracy.
doi:10.1186/1297-9686-46-9
PMCID: PMC3930001  PMID: 24495673
3.  Genetic Diversity in the Modern Horse Illustrated from Genome-Wide SNP Data 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(1):e54997.
Horses were domesticated from the Eurasian steppes 5,000–6,000 years ago. Since then, the use of horses for transportation, warfare, and agriculture, as well as selection for desired traits and fitness, has resulted in diverse populations distributed across the world, many of which have become or are in the process of becoming formally organized into closed, breeding populations (breeds). This report describes the use of a genome-wide set of autosomal SNPs and 814 horses from 36 breeds to provide the first detailed description of equine breed diversity. FST calculations, parsimony, and distance analysis demonstrated relationships among the breeds that largely reflect geographic origins and known breed histories. Low levels of population divergence were observed between breeds that are relatively early on in the process of breed development, and between those with high levels of within-breed diversity, whether due to large population size, ongoing outcrossing, or large within-breed phenotypic diversity. Populations with low within-breed diversity included those which have experienced population bottlenecks, have been under intense selective pressure, or are closed populations with long breed histories. These results provide new insights into the relationships among and the diversity within breeds of horses. In addition these results will facilitate future genome-wide association studies and investigations into genomic targets of selection.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0054997
PMCID: PMC3559798  PMID: 23383025
4.  Genome-Wide Analysis Reveals Selection for Important Traits in Domestic Horse Breeds 
PLoS Genetics  2013;9(1):e1003211.
Intense selective pressures applied over short evolutionary time have resulted in homogeneity within, but substantial variation among, horse breeds. Utilizing this population structure, 744 individuals from 33 breeds, and a 54,000 SNP genotyping array, breed-specific targets of selection were identified using an FST-based statistic calculated in 500-kb windows across the genome. A 5.5-Mb region of ECA18, in which the myostatin (MSTN) gene was centered, contained the highest signature of selection in both the Paint and Quarter Horse. Gene sequencing and histological analysis of gluteal muscle biopsies showed a promoter variant and intronic SNP of MSTN were each significantly associated with higher Type 2B and lower Type 1 muscle fiber proportions in the Quarter Horse, demonstrating a functional consequence of selection at this locus. Signatures of selection on ECA23 in all gaited breeds in the sample led to the identification of a shared, 186-kb haplotype including two doublesex related mab transcription factor genes (DMRT2 and 3). The recent identification of a DMRT3 mutation within this haplotype, which appears necessary for the ability to perform alternative gaits, provides further evidence for selection at this locus. Finally, putative loci for the determination of size were identified in the draft breeds and the Miniature horse on ECA11, as well as when signatures of selection surrounding candidate genes at other loci were examined. This work provides further evidence of the importance of MSTN in racing breeds, provides strong evidence for selection upon gait and size, and illustrates the potential for population-based techniques to find genomic regions driving important phenotypes in the modern horse.
Author Summary
A breed of the horse typically consists of individuals sharing very similar aesthetic and performance traits. However, a great deal of variation in traits exists between breeds. The range of variation observed among breeds can be illustrated by the size difference between the Miniature horse (0.74 m and 100 kg) and draft horse (1.8 m and 900 kg), or by comparing the optimum racing distance of the Quarter Horse (1/4 mile) to that of the Arabian (100 miles or more). In this study, we exploited the breed structure of the horse to identify regions of the genome that are significantly different between breeds and therefore may harbor genes and genetic variants targeted by selective breeding. This work resulted in the identification of variants in the Paint and Quarter Horse significantly associated with altered muscle fiber type proportions favorable for increased sprinting ability. A strong signature of selection was also identified in breeds that perform alternative gaits, and several genomic regions identified are hypothesized to be involved in the determination of size. This study has demonstrated the utility of this approach for studying the equine genome and is the first to show a functional consequence of selective breeding in the horse.
doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.1003211
PMCID: PMC3547851  PMID: 23349635
5.  A High Density SNP Array for the Domestic Horse and Extant Perissodactyla: Utility for Association Mapping, Genetic Diversity, and Phylogeny Studies 
PLoS Genetics  2012;8(1):e1002451.
An equine SNP genotyping array was developed and evaluated on a panel of samples representing 14 domestic horse breeds and 18 evolutionarily related species. More than 54,000 polymorphic SNPs provided an average inter-SNP spacing of ∼43 kb. The mean minor allele frequency across domestic horse breeds was 0.23, and the number of polymorphic SNPs within breeds ranged from 43,287 to 52,085. Genome-wide linkage disequilibrium (LD) in most breeds declined rapidly over the first 50–100 kb and reached background levels within 1–2 Mb. The extent of LD and the level of inbreeding were highest in the Thoroughbred and lowest in the Mongolian and Quarter Horse. Multidimensional scaling (MDS) analyses demonstrated the tight grouping of individuals within most breeds, close proximity of related breeds, and less tight grouping in admixed breeds. The close relationship between the Przewalski's Horse and the domestic horse was demonstrated by pair-wise genetic distance and MDS. Genotyping of other Perissodactyla (zebras, asses, tapirs, and rhinoceros) was variably successful, with call rates and the number of polymorphic loci varying across taxa. Parsimony analysis placed the modern horse as sister taxa to Equus przewalski. The utility of the SNP array in genome-wide association was confirmed by mapping the known recessive chestnut coat color locus (MC1R) and defining a conserved haplotype of ∼750 kb across all breeds. These results demonstrate the high quality of this SNP genotyping resource, its usefulness in diverse genome analyses of the horse, and potential use in related species.
Author Summary
We utilized the previously generated horse genome sequence and a large SNP database to design an ∼54,000 SNP assay for use in the domestic horse and related species. The utility of this SNP array was demonstrated through genome-wide linkage disequilibrium, inbreeding and genetic distance measurements within breeds, as well as multidimensional scaling and parsimony analysis. Association mapping confirmed a large conserved segment containing the chestnut coat color locus in domestic horses. We also assess the utility of the SNP array in related species, including the Przewalski's Horse, zebras, asses, tapirs, and rhinoceros. This SNP genotyping tool will facilitate many genetics applications in equids, including identification of genes for health and performance traits, and compelling studies of the origins of the domestic horse, diversity within breeds, and evolutionary relationships among related species.
doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.1002451
PMCID: PMC3257288  PMID: 22253606

Results 1-5 (5)