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Effect of the myostatin locus on muscle mass and intramuscular fat content in a cross between mouse lines selected for hypermuscularity

Stefan Kärst1, Eva M Strucken1, Armin O Schmitt13, Alexandra Weyrich1, Fernando PM de Villena2, Hyuna Yang2 and Gudrun A Brockmann1*

Author affiliations

1 Department for Crop and Animal Sciences, Breeding Biology and Molecular Genetics, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Invalidenstraße 42, 10115, Berlin, Germany

2 Department of Genetics, School of Medicine, University of North Carolina, 120 Mason Farm Road, Chapell Hill, NC, 27599-7264, USA

3 Faculty of Science and Technology, Universitätsplatz 5 - piazza Università, 539100, Bozen-Bolzano, Italy

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Citation and License

BMC Genomics 2013, 14:16  doi:10.1186/1471-2164-14-16

Published: 16 January 2013



This study is aimed at the analysis of genetic and physiological effects of myostatin on economically relevant meat quality traits in a genetic background of high muscularity. For this purpose, we generated G3 populations of reciprocal crosses between the two hypermuscular mouse lines BMMI866, which carries a myostatin mutation and is lean, and BMMI806, which has high intramuscular and body fat content. To assess the relationship between muscle mass, body composition and muscle quality traits, we also analysed intramuscular fat content (IMF), water holding capacity (WHC), and additional physiological parameters in M. quadriceps and M. longissimus in 308 G3-animals.


We found that individuals with larger muscles have significantly lower total body fat (r = −0.28) and IMF (r = −0.64), and in females, a lower WHC (r = −0.35). In males, higher muscle mass was also significantly correlated with higher glycogen contents (r = 0.2) and lower carcass pH-values 24 hours after dissection (r = −0.19). Linkage analyses confirmed the influence of the myostatin mutation on higher lean mass (1.35 g), reduced body fat content (−1.15%), and lower IMF in M. longissimus (−0.13%) and M. quadriceps (−0.07%). No effect was found for WHC. A large proportion of variation of intramuscular fat content of the M. longissimus at the myostatin locus could be explained by sex (23%) and direction-of-cross effects (26%). The effects were higher in males (+0.41%). An additional locus with negative over-dominance effects on total fat mass (−0.55 g) was identified on chromosome 16 at 94 Mb (86–94 Mb) which concurs with fat related QTL in syntenic regions on SSC13 in pigs and BTA1 in cattle.


The data shows QTL effects on mouse muscle that are similar to those previously observed in livestock, supporting the mouse model. New information from the mouse model helps to describe variation in meat quantity and quality, and thus contribute to research in livestock.