The DMRT3 'Gait keeper' mutation affects performance of Nordic and Standardbred trotters.
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In a previous study it was shown that a nonsense mutation in the DMRT3 gene alters the pattern of locomotion in horses and that this mutation has a strong positive impact on trotting performance of Standardbreds. One aim of this study was to test if racing performance and trotting technique in the Nordic (Coldblood) trotters are also influenced by the DMRT3 genotype. Another aim was to further investigate the effect of the mutation on performance in Standardbreds, by using a within-family analysis and genotype-phenotype correlations in a larger horse material than in the previous study. We genotyped 427 Nordic trotters and 621 Standardbreds for the DMRT3 nonsense mutation and a SNP in strong linkage disequilibrium with it. In Nordic trotters, we show that horses homozygous for the DMRT3 mutation (A) had significantly higher EBV for trotting performance traits than heterozygous (CA) or homozygous wild-type (CC) horses (P = 0.001). Furthermore, AA homozygotes had a higher proportion of victories and top 3 placings than horses heterozygous or homozygous wild-type, when analyzing performance data for the period 3 to 6 yr of age (P = 0.06 and P = 0.05, respectively). Another finding in the Nordic trotters was that the DMRT3 mutation influenced trotting technique (P = 2.1 10(-8)). Standardbred horses homozygous AA had significantly higher EBV for all traits than horses with at least 1 wild-type allele (CA and CC; P = 1.6 10(-16)). In a within-family analysis of Standardbreds, we found significant differences in several traits (e.g., earnings, P = 0.002; number of entered races, P = 0.004; and fraction of offspring that entered races, P = 0.002) among paternal half-sibs with genotype AA or CA sired by a CA stallion. For most traits, we found significant differences at young ages. For Nordic trotters, most of the results were significant at 3 yr of age but not for the older ages, and for the Standardbreds most of the results for the ages 3 to 5 were significant. For Nordic trotters, the proportion of victories and placings were the only traits that were significant for other ages than 3 yr.