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Animal Science

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Frontiers in Genetics



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Improvements in eating satisfaction will benefit consumers and should increase beef demand which is of interest to the beef industry. Tenderness, juiciness, and flavor are major determinants of the palatability of beef and are often used to reflect eating satisfaction. Carcass qualities are used as indicator traits for meat quality, with higher quality grade carcasses expected to relate to more tender and palatable meat. However, meat quality is a complex concept determined by many component traits making interpretation of genome-wide association studies (GWAS) on any one component challenging to interpret. Recent approaches combining traditional GWAS with gene network interactions theory could be more efficient in dissecting the genetic architecture of complex traits. Phenotypic measures of 23 traits reflecting carcass characteristics, components of meat quality, along with mineral and peptide concentrations were used along with Illumina 54k bovine SNP genotypes to derive an annotated gene network associated with meat quality in 2,110 Angus beef cattle. The efficient mixed model association (EMMAX) approach in combination with a genomic relationship matrix was used to directly estimate the associations between 54k SNP genotypes and each of the 23 component traits. Genomic correlated regions were identified by partial correlations which were further used along with an information theory algorithm to derive gene network clusters. Correlated SNP across 23 component traits were subjected to network scoring and visualization software to identify significant SNP. Significant pathways implicated in the meat quality complex through GO term enrichment analysis included angiogenesis, inflammation, transmembrane transporter activity, and receptor activity. These results suggest that network analysis using partial correlations and annotation of significant SNP can reveal the genetic architecture of complex traits and provide novel information regarding biological mechanisms and genes that lead to complex phenotypes, like meat quality, and the nutritional and healthfulness value of beef. Improvements in genome annotation and knowledge of gene function will contribute to more comprehensive analyses that will advance our ability to dissect the complex architecture of complex traits.


This article is published as Mateescu, Raluca G., Dorian J. Garrick, and James M. Reecy. "Network analysis reveals putative genes affecting meat quality in Angus cattle." Frontiers in genetics 8 (2017): 171. doi: 10.3389/fgene.2017.00171.

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

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Mateescu, Garrick and Reecy



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