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Body weight is one of the most important quantitative traits with high heritability in chicken. We previously mapped a quantitative trait locus (QTL) for body weight by genome-wide association study (GWAS) in an F2 chicken resource population. To identify the causal mutations linked to this QTL, expression profiles were determined on livers of high-weight and low-weight chicken lines by microarray. Combining the expression pattern with SNP effects by GWAS, miR-16 was identified as the most likely potential candidate with a 3.8-fold decrease in high-weight lines. Re-sequencing revealed that a 54-bp insertion mutation in the upstream region of miR-15a-16 displayed high allele frequencies in high-weight commercial broiler line. This mutation resulted in lower miR-16 expression by introducing three novel splicing sites instead of the missing 5′ terminal splicing of mature miR-16. Elevating miR-16 significantly inhibited DF-1 chicken embryo cell proliferation, consistent with a role in suppression of cellular growth. The 54-bp insertion was significantly associated with increased body weight, bone size and muscle mass. Also, the insertion mutation tended towards fixation in commercial broilers (Fst > 0.4). Our findings revealed a novel causative mutation for body weight regulation that aids our basic understanding of growth regulation in birds.
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Jia, Xinzheng; Lin, Huiran; Nie, Qinghua; Zhang, Xiquan; and Lamont, Susan J., "A short insertion mutation disrupts genesis of miR-16 and causes increased body weight in domesticated chicken" (2016). Animal Science Publications. 585.