The signal transducer and activator of transcription 3 (STAT3) gene plays a crucial role in leptin-mediated energy metabolism, upon which the growth and development of animals depend. Nevertheless, no studies have reported the effects of STAT3 gene polymorphisms on body weight and fatness modulation in sheep. This study aimed to illustrate STAT3 mRNA expression across tissues and various developmental stages of sheep and to highlight the association of STAT3 gene polymorphisms with body weight and fat-related traits in sheep, in order to identify a genetic marker that may conceivably be of value for marker-assisted selection (MAS). This study revealed that STAT3 was differentially expressed across age and sex (p < 0.05), with higher expression in the ram liver. The abundant expression of STAT3 in the liver of male sheep and increased expression in the hypothalamus and longissimus dorsi muscle from birth to six months of age may indicate the vital role of the STAT3 gene in animal growth and development. Moreover, SNP association analysis also revealed that the novel SNPs of the STAT3 gene detected in this study showed a significant association with body weight and fatness traits (p < 0.05). In conclusion, the significant genetic effects of the STAT3 gene polymorphisms on sheep growth and development revealed that STAT3 could be a marker gene for the selection of growth-related traits in sheep.
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We gratefully thank Teketay Wassie, Abdelmotaleb Elokil, Dongdong Bo, Chenghui Liu, Sohail Ahmed, and all other people whose hard work in the Laboratory of Small Ruminant Genetics, Breeding and Reproduction, Huazhong Agricultural University, China, contributed to this work.
This work was financially supported by the China Agricultural Research System (CARS-38-01A) and the National Key R&D Program of China (2018YFD0502105).
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Chong, Y., Liu, G., Girmay, S. et al. Novel mutations in the signal transducer and activator of transcription 3 gene are associated with sheep body weight and fatness traits. Mamm Genome 32, 38–49 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00335-020-09850-4