Genome-wide association study reveals that the IBSP locus affects ear size in cattle


Ear size is a classical model for hot climate adaptation following the evolution, but the genetic basis of the traits associated with ear size remains to be elucidated. Here, we performed a genome-wide association study on 158 cattle to explain the genetic mechanism of ear size. One region on BTA6 between 36.79 and 38.80 Mb included 50 suggestive SNPs and 4 significant SNPs that were significantly associated with ear size. The most significant locus (P = 1.30 × 10−8) was a missense mutation (T250I) on the seventh exon of integrin-binding sialoprotein (IBSP), which had an allele substitution effect of 23.46 cm2 for ear size. Furthermore, this mutation will cause changes in the three-dimensional structure of the protein. To further identify genes underlying this typical feature, we performed a genome scan among nine cattle breeds with different ear sizes by using SweeD. Results suggested that IBSP was under positive selection among four breeds with relatively large ear sizes. The expression levels of IBSP in ear tissues of large- and small-ear cattle were significantly different. A haplotype diversity survey of this missense mutation in worldwide cattle breeds strongly implied that the origin of this missense mutation event was Bos taurus. These findings have important theoretical importance for the exploration of major genes associated with ear size and provide important molecular markers for the identification of cattle germplasm resources.

Publication Title