Genetic variants in the upstream region of activin receptor IIA are associated with female fertility in Japanese Black cattle

Shinji Sasaki, Takayuki Ibi, Tamako Matsuhashi, Kenji Takeda, Shogo Ikeda, Mayumi Sugimoto, Yoshikazu Sugimoto

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Female fertility, a fundamental trait required for animal reproduction, has gradually declined in the last 2 decades in Japanese Black cattle. To identify associated genetic variants in Japanese Black cattle, we evaluated female fertility as a metric to describe the average inverse of the number of artificial inseminations required for conception from the first through the fourth parity (ANAI4) and conducted a genome-wide association study (GWAS) using 430 animals with extreme ANAI4 values from 10,399 animals. Results: We found that 2 variants, namely a single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNP; g.48476925C > T) and a 3-bp indel (g.48476943_48476946insGGC), in the upstream region of the activin receptor IIA gene (ACVR2A) were associated with ANAI4. ACVR2A transcripts from Japanese Black cattle of the Q haplotype, defined by the SNP and the 3-bp indel, with increased ANAI4 were 1.29-1.32-fold more abundant than q-derived transcripts. In agreement, reporter assay results revealed that the activity of the ACVR2A promoter was higher in reporter constructs with the Q haplotype than in those with the q haplotype by approximately 1.2 fold. Expression of exogenous ACVR2A induced dose-dependent increases of reporter activity from the follicle-stimulating hormone, beta polypeptide (FSHB) promoter in response to activin A in a pituitary gonadotrophic cell line. The findings suggested that sequence variations in the upstream region of ACVR2A with the Q haplotype increased ACVR2A transcription, which in turn induced FSHB expression. This association was replicated using a sample population size of 1,433 animals; the frequency of the Q haplotype was 0.39, and Q-to-q haplotype substitution resulted in an increase of 0.02 in terms of ANAI4. Conclusions: This GWAS identified variants in the upstream region of ACVR2A, which were associated with female fertility in Japanese Black cattle. The variants affected the level of ACVR2A mRNA expression, which could lead to an allelic imbalance. This association was replicated with a sample population of 1,433 animals. Thus, the results suggest that the Q haplotype could serve as a useful marker to select Japanese Black cattle with superior female fertility.

Original languageEnglish
Article number123
JournalBMC Genetics
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Oct 20 2015


  • Activin receptor IIA (ACVR2A)
  • Beef cattle
  • Female fertility
  • Genome-wide association study
  • Japanese Black cattle
  • Reproductive efficiency

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics
  • Genetics(clinical)


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