The dermal shank pigmentation, one of the defining traits of chicken breeds, is caused by an abnormal deposition of melanin in the dermis of the shank. The abnormal deposition is controlled by the sex-linked inhibitor of dermal melanin (Id). In this study, we aim to locate the gene responsible for the dermal shank pigmentation in chickens by an association analysis and a differential expression analysis. Based on our results, 72 single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) located in Z chromosome (chrZ): 71–73 Mb (galGal3) were selected to further explore their relationships with the dermal shank pigmentation in pure lines of 96 Gushi hens and 96 Gushi hens with a yellow shank skin colour. The results of the association analysis showed that the SNPs located in chrZ: 72.58–72.99 Mb (galGal3) (chrZ: 79.02–79.44 Mb (galGal4)) are significantly associated with the dermal shank pigmentation. Based on the results of our previous studies and the present association analysis, the zinc-finger protein 608 (ZNF608), GRAM domain containing 3 (GRAMD3), aldehyde dehydrogenase 7 family member A1 (ALDH7A1), fem-1 homologue C (FEM1C), beta-1,4-galactosyltransferase 1 (B4GALT1) and versican (VCAN) genes were selected for the differential expression analysis. The gene expression profiles showed that the expression ofGRAMD3gene in the dermis tissues of the shank was significantly (P = 0.010738 < 0.05) higher in 350-day-old Gushi chickens characterized by the dermal shank pigmentation than in one-day-old Gushi chickens. The dermal shank pigmentation was not present in the one-day-old Gushi chickens. Additionally, the results of the association analysis and the expression analysis showed that GRAMD3 could be the most likely candidate gene for the Id locus. However, we did not detect a mutation, i.e. significantly associated with this trait within GRAMD3. Therefore, we concluded that the variations located in the flanking region of GRAMD3 led to the abnormal expression of GRAMD3, which requires further study.
Volume 100, 2021
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