Our knowledge of the genetic factors affecting obesity is increasing, but information about the individual gene effects remains limited in humans as well as in animal models. The melanocortin-4 receptor gene (MC4R) has been implicated in the regulation of feeding behavior and body weight in humans and mice. We have studied MC4R as a candidate gene for the control of economically important growth and performance traits in the pig. A missense mutation was identified in a region highly conserved among melanocortin receptor (MCR) genes. To determine whether there was an association of this MC4R polymorphism with phenotypic variation, we tested the mutation in a large number of individual animals from several different pig lines. Analyses of growth and performance test records showed significant associations of MC4R genotypes with backfat and growth rate in a number of lines as well as feed intake overall. It is probable that the variant amino acid residue of the MC4R mutation (or a closely linked mutation) causes a significant change of the MC4R function. These results support the functional significance of a pig MC4R missense mutation and suggest that comparative genomics based on model species may be equally important for application to farm animals as they are for human medicine.
Mammalian Genome – Springer Journals
Published: Feb 1, 2000
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