a1 WABRI, School of Biomedical Sciences, Faculty of Health Sciences, Curtin University, Perth, Western Australia, Australia
The coding region of the alpaca Agouti signalling protein (ASIP) gene was sequenced. It was determined to be 402 nucleotides long and code for a protein that is 133 amino acids long. Eight mutations were identified in a sample of 15 alpaca, five in the coding region and three in the introns flanking the exons. In silico analysis showed that three of the five mutations in the coding sequence, c.325_381del57, c.292C>T and c.353G>A are probable loss-of-function mutations. The three mutations were strongly associated with black fibre colour, with 0·90 of black alpacas in the current study having two copies of one or another of the mutations. However, not all black animals displayed the putative ‘aa’ genotype, and almost half of the non-black animals did display that genotype. Contributing factors such as regulatory region mutations, interactions of ASIP with melanocortin-1 receptor (MC1R) and α-melanocyte stimulating hormone (α-MSH), the effect of dilution genes and subjective phenotype assignment are discussed. These mutations will allow alpaca breeders to select for or against black, but they do not explain all black phenotypes in this species.
(Received October 28 2010)
(Accepted November 08 2010)
(Online publication January 05 2011)