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The Molecular Effects of a Polymorphism in the 5'UTR of Solute Carrier Family 44, Member 5 that Is Associated with Birth Weight in Holsteins
Published: Wednesday, July 18, 2012
Author: Mayumi Sugimoto et al.

by Mayumi Sugimoto, Toshio Watanabe, Yoshikazu Sugimoto

Dystocia is a major problem for the dairy cattle industry, and the observed high rates of this condition stem from genetic selection to increase subsequent milk production of the calving female. Because smaller birth size does not adversely affect subsequent milk production, selecting for cows with a smaller birth size would reduce dystocia rates and be beneficial for both the cattle and the farmers. To identify genes that regulate birth weight, we conducted a genome-wide association study using 1151 microsatellite markers and identified a single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) associated with birth weight: A-326G in the 5' untranslated region (UTR) of solute carrier family 44, member 5 (SLC44A5). Cows with higher birth weights carried the A polymorphism in the SLC44A5 5' UTR, and the presence of the A polymorphism correlated with a high rate of dystocia. Luciferase assays and quantitative polymerase chain reaction (QPCR) assays revealed that SLC44A5 transcripts with the A polymorphism are expressed at lower levels than those carrying the G polymorphism. SLC44A5 encodes a choline transporter-like protein, and choline is a component of the major phospholipids of cell membranes. Uptake studies in HeLa cells demonstrated that SLC44A5 knockdown reduces choline efflux, whereas SLC44A5 overexpression resulted in the opposite effect. Furthermore, cell viability assays indicated that SLC44A5 knockdown increased cell proliferation, whereas SLC44A5 overexpression repressed proliferation. Taken together, our results suggest that calves with reduced SLC44A5 expression are larger due to enhanced cell proliferation. This study provides novel insights into the molecular mechanisms that control birth weight in Holsteins and suggests that SLC44A5 may serve as a potential target for preventing dystocia.