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Animal Science

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Scientific Reports



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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.


This article is published as Jia, Xinzheng, Huiran Lin, Qinghua Nie, Xiquan Zhang, and Susan J. Lamont. "A short insertion mutation disrupts genesis of miR-16 and causes increased body weight in domesticated chicken." Scientific Reports 6 (2016): 36433. DOI: 10.1038/srep36433. Posted with permission.

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