Polymorphisms in Wnt signaling pathway genes are significantly associated with chicken carcass traits.
ABSTRACT The Wnt signaling pathway plays a crucial role during embryogenesis in vertebrates. In this study, 124 SNP in 31 Wnt signaling pathway genes were selected to genotype 764 individuals in an F(2) resource population by reciprocally crossing Silkie fowls and Cornish broilers, and 102 SNP were polymorphic. Pairwise linkage disequilibrium among the SNP within each gene was calculated. Haplotypes were reconstructed from the SNP in strong linkage disequilibrium. The associations of SNP and haplotypes with carcass traits were analyzed respectively, and the SNP contributions to phenotypic variance were estimated. The present study showed that 58 SNP in 24 genes and 8 haplotype blocks within 7 genes were significantly (P < 0.05) associated with at least one carcass trait. Fourteen SNP (among the 58 SNP) explained >2% phenotypic variance, 12 of which had significantly (P < 0.01) additive or dominant effects. Furthermore, both rs15865526 (Wnt9A) and rs14066777 (MAPK9) as well as their corresponding haplotype blocks were significantly associated with shank circumference and wing weight, respectively. In addition, 5 muscle-weight-related SNP explained >7% phenotypic variance, which was much higher than those of others. It was found that the Wnt signaling pathway was strongly associated with chicken carcass traits, and 7 genes were particularly important, namely RHOA and CHP for breast muscle weight, Wnt3A for breast muscle weight percentage over carcass weight, RAC1 for thigh weight percentage and thigh muscle weight percentage over carcass weight, Wnt11 for thigh weight percentage over carcass weight, Wnt9A for shank length, and MAPK9 for shank circumference. It is evident that Wnt signaling plays a major role in regulating carcass characteristics important for production traits in chickens.