Genome-wide association study for the free amino acid and nucleotide components of breast meat in an F2 crossbred chicken population
Flavor is an important sensory trait of chicken meat. The free amino acid (FAA) and nucleotide (NT) components of meat are major factors affecting meat flavor during the cooking process. As a genetic approach to improve meat flavor, we performed a genome-wide association study (GWAS) to identify the potential candidate genes related to the FAA and NT components of chicken breast meat. Measurements of FAA and NT components were recorded at the age of 10 weeks from 764 and 767 birds, respectively, using a White leghorn and Yeonsan ogye crossbred F<sub>2</sub> chicken population. For genotyping, we used 60K Illumina single-nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) chips. We found a total of nine significant SNPs for five FAA traits (arginine, glycine, lysine, threonine content, and the essential FAAs and one NT trait (inosine content), and six significant genomic regions were identified, including three regions shared among the essential FAAs, arginine, and inosine content traits. A list of potential candidate genes in significant genomic regions was detected, including the <italic>KCNRG</italic>, <italic>KCNIP4</italic>, <italic>HOXA3</italic>, <italic>THSD7B</italic>, and <italic>MMUT</italic> genes. The essential FAAs had significant gene regions the same as arginine. The genes related to arginine content were involved in nitric oxide metabolism, while the inosine content was possibly affected by insulin activity. Moreover, the threonine content could be related to methylmalonyl-CoA mutase. The genes and SNPs identified in this study might be useful markers in chicken selection and breeding for chicken meat flavor.