Scientists have found that one gene is responsible for variability in locomotion in horses and mice.
Traits such as height are controlled by the interaction of up to 700 genes. So it came as quite a shock to researchers from Uppsala University (UU) and their international collaborators that the mutation of just a single gene is responsible for variability in locomotion in horses and mice. Furthermore, the research team discovered that this gene, DMRT3, is expressed in a previously unknown set of neurons in the spinal cord. These findings provide insight into the neural circuits that coordinate movement in vertebrates.
“The amazing result was that we found one very strong signal on one chromosome which by further work led to the discovery of the DMRT3 mutation,” explains Leif Andersson, co-author of the paper published in Nature, from UU and Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences. “This was unexpected since we had [anticipated] a much more complex genetic background for a trait like this.”