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Genes in the sterol regulatory element-binding protein-1 (SREBP1) pathway play a central role in regulation of milk fat synthesis, especially the de-novo synthesis of saturated fatty acids. SCD, a SREBP-responsive gene, is the key enzyme in the synthesis of monounsaturated fatty acids in the mammary gland. In the present study, we discovered SNP in candidate genes associated with this signalling pathway and SCD to identify genetic markers that can be used for genetic and metabolically directed selection in cattle. We resequenced six candidate genes in the SREBP1 pathway (SREBP1, SCAP, INSIG1, INSIG2, MBTPS1, MBTPS2) and two genes for SCD (SCD1 and SCD5) and discovered 47 Tag SNP that were used in a marker-trait association study. Milk and blood samples were collected from Holstein cows in their 1st or 2nd parity at 100–150 days of lactation. Individual fatty acids from C4 to C20, saturated fatty acid (SFA) content, monounsaturated fatty acid content, polyunsaturated fatty acid content and desaturase indexes were measured and used to perform the asociation analysis. Polymorphisms in the SCD5 and INSIG2 genes were the most representative markers associated with SFA/unsaturated fatty acid (UFA) ratio in milk. The analysis of desaturation activity determined that markers in the SCD1 and SCD5 genes showed the most significant effects. DGAT1 K232A marker was included in the study to examine the effect of this marker on the variation of milk fatty acids in our Holstein population. The percentage of variance explained by DGAT1 in the analysis was only 6% of SFA/UFA ratio. Milk fat depression was observed in one of the dairy herds and in this particular dairy one SNP in the SREBP1 gene (rs41912290) accounted for 40% of the phenotypic variance. Our results provide detailed SNP information for key genes in the SREBP1 signalling pathway and SCD that can be used to change milk fat composition by marker-assisted breeding to meet consumer demands regarding human health, as well as furthering understanding of technological aspects of cows' milk.
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