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Open Access Research article

Variation at the Calpain 3 gene is associated with meat tenderness in zebu and composite breeds of cattle

William Barendse*, Blair E Harrison, Rowan J Bunch and Merle B Thomas

Author Affiliations

CSIRO Livestock Industries and CRC for Cattle and Beef Quality, Queensland Bioscience Precinct, 306 Carmody Road, St. Lucia 4067, Australia

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BMC Genetics 2008, 9:41  doi:10.1186/1471-2156-9-41

Published: 1 July 2008

Abstract

Background

Quantitative Trait Loci (QTL) affecting meat tenderness have been reported on Bovine chromosome 10. Here we examine variation at the Calpain 3 (CAPN3) gene in cattle, a gene located within the confidence interval of the QTL, and which is a positional candidate gene based on the biochemical activity of the protein.

Results

We identified single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNP) in the genomic sequence of the CAPN3 gene and tested three of these in a sample of 2189 cattle. Of the three SNP genotyped, the CAPN3:c.1538+225G>T had the largest significant additive effect, with an allele substitution effect in the Brahman of α = -0.144 kg, SE = 0.060, P = 0.016, and the polymorphism explained 1.7% of the residual phenotypic variance in that sample of the breed. Significant haplotype substitution effects were found for all three breeds, the Brahman, the Belmont Red, and the Santa Gertrudis. For the common haplotype, the haplotype substitution effect in the Brahman was α = 0.169 kg, SE = 0.056, P = 0.003. The effect of this gene was compared to Calpastatin in the same sample. The SNP show negligible frequencies in taurine breeds and low to moderate minor allele frequencies in zebu or composite animals.

Conclusion

These associations confirm the location of a QTL for meat tenderness in this region of bovine chromosome 10. SNP in or near this gene may be responsible for part of the overall difference between taurine and zebu breeds in meat tenderness, and the greater variability in meat tenderness found in zebu and composite breeds. The evidence provided so far suggests that none of these tested SNP are causative mutations.