Marbling defined by the amount and distribution of intramuscular fat, so-called Shimofuri, is an economically important trait of beef cattle in Japan. Our previous study detected 3 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs), g.231054C > T, g.3109537C > T and c.*188G > A, respectively, in the 5' flanking region of the titin (TTN), the 5' flanking region of the ribosomal protein L27a (RPL27A) and the 3' untranslated region of the akirin 2 genes (AKIRIN2), which have been considered as positional functional candidates for the genes responsible for marbling, and showed association of these SNPs with marbling in Japanese Black beef cattle. In the present study, we investigated the allele frequency distribution of the 3 SNPs among the 5 cattle breeds, Japanese Black, Japanese Brown, Japanese Shorthorn, Holstein and Brown Swiss breeds.
We genotyped the TTN g.231054C > T, RPL27A g.3109537C > T and AKIRIN2 c.*188G > A SNPs by polymerase chain reaction-restriction fragment length polymorphism method, using 101 sires and 1,705 paternal half sib progeny steers from 8 sires for Japanese Black, 86 sires and 27 paternal half sib progeny steers from 3 sires for Japanese Brown, 79 sires and 264 paternal half sib progeny steers from 14 sires for Japanese Shorthorn, 119 unrelated cows for Holstein, and 118 unrelated cows for Brown Swiss breeds. As compared to the frequencies of the g.231054C > T T, g.3109537C > T T and c.*188G > A A alleles, associated with high marbling, in Japanese Black breed that has been subjected to a strong selection for high marbling, those in the breeds, Japanese Shorthorn, Holstein and Brown Swiss breeds, that have not been selected for high marbling were null or lower. The Japanese Brown breed selected slightly for high marbling showed lower frequency than Japanese Black breed in the g.3109537C > T T allele, whereas no differences were detected between the 2 breeds in the frequencies of the g.231054C > T T and c.*188G > A A alleles.
Based on this finding, we hypothesized that the pressure of the strong selection for high marbling in Japanese Black breed has increased the frequencies of the T, T and A alleles at the TTN g.231054C > T, RPL27A g.3109537C > T and AKIRIN2 c.*188G > A SNPs, respectively. This study, together with the previous association studies, suggested that the 3 SNPs may be useful for effective marker-assisted selection to increase the levels of marbling.