Exploration of the exonic variations of the iPSC-related Nanog gene and their effects on phenotypic traits in cattle
Nanog is an important pluripotent transcription regulator transforming somatic cells to induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs), and its overexpression leads to a high expression of the growth and differentiation factor 3 (GDF3), which affects animal growth traits. Therefore, the aim of this study was to explore the genetic variations within the Nanog gene and their effects on phenotypic traits in cattle. Six novel exonic single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) were found in six cattle breeds. Seven haplotypes were analyzed: TCAACC (0.260), TCAATA (0.039), TCATCC (0.019), TCGACC (0.506), TCGATA (0.137), TCGTCC (0.036), and CTGATA (0.003). There were strong linkage disequilibriums of SNP1 and SNP2 in Jiaxian cattle as well as of SNP5 and SNP6 in both Jiaxian cattle and Nanyang cattle. Moreover, SNP3, SNP4, and SNP5 were associated with phenotypes. The individuals with GG genotype at the SNP3 locus or AA genotype at the SNP4 locus showed better body slanting length and chest circumference or body height and hucklebone width in Nanyang cattle. The superiority of the SNP5-C allele regarding body height and cannon circumference was observed in Jiaxian cattle. The combination of SNP3 and SNP4 (GG–AA) had positive effects on body height, body slanting length, and chest circumference. These findings may indicate that Nanog, as a regulator of bovine growth traits, could be a candidate gene for marker-assisted selection (MAS) in breeding and genetics in cattle.