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Non-additive QTL mapping of lactation traits in 124,000 cattle reveals novel recessive loci
Genetics Selection Evolution  (IF5.1),  Pub Date : 2022-01-24, DOI: 10.1186/s12711-021-00694-3
Reynolds, Edwardo G. M., Lopdell, Thomas, Wang, Yu, Tiplady, Kathryn M., Harland, Chad S., Johnson, Thomas J. J., Neeley, Catherine, Carnie, Katie, Sherlock, Richard G., Couldrey, Christine, Davis, Stephen R., Harris, Bevin L., Spelman, Richard J., Garrick, Dorian J., Littlejohn, Mathew D.

Deleterious recessive conditions have been primarily studied in the context of Mendelian diseases. Recently, several deleterious recessive mutations with large effects were discovered via non-additive genome-wide association studies (GWAS) of quantitative growth and developmental traits in cattle, which showed that quantitative traits can be used as proxies of genetic disorders when such traits are indicative of whole-animal health status. We reasoned that lactation traits in cattle might also reflect genetic disorders, given the increased energy demands of lactation and the substantial stresses imposed on the animal. In this study, we screened more than 124,000 cows for recessive effects based on lactation traits. We discovered five novel quantitative trait loci (QTL) that are associated with large recessive impacts on three milk yield traits, with these loci presenting missense variants in the DOCK8, IL4R, KIAA0556, and SLC25A4 genes or premature stop variants in the ITGAL, LRCH4, and RBM34 genes, as candidate causal mutations. For two milk composition traits, we identified several previously reported additive QTL that display small dominance effects. By contrasting results from milk yield and milk composition phenotypes, we note differing genetic architectures. Compared to milk composition phenotypes, milk yield phenotypes had lower heritabilities and were associated with fewer additive QTL but had a higher non-additive genetic variance and were associated with a higher proportion of loci exhibiting dominance. We identified large-effect recessive QTL which are segregating at surprisingly high frequencies in cattle. We speculate that the differences in genetic architecture between milk yield and milk composition phenotypes derive from underlying dissimilarities in the cellular and molecular representation of these traits, with yield phenotypes acting as a better proxy of underlying biological disorders through presentation of a larger number of major recessive impacts.