Estimating the copy number of the agouti signaling protein (ASIP) gene in goat breeds with different color patterns

Dailu Guan, Anna Castelló, María Gracia Luigi-Sierra, Vincenzo Landi, Juan Vicente Delgado, Amparo Martínez, Marcel Amills*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


The agouti signaling protein (ASIP) gene has a crucial role in pigmentation by encoding a protein that binds the melanocortin 1 receptor and stimulates the synthesis of pheomelanin rather than eumelanin. Several studies have suggested that an increased copy number of the ASIP gene might explain the white pigmentation of certain goat breeds, as previously demonstrated in sheep. In the current work, we have identified the segregation of the ASIP CNV in Murciano-Granadina (black or brown coat), Malagueña (brown, blond or white coat) and Saanen (white coat) goats with available Illumina Goat SNP50 BeadChip (Illumina Inc., San Diego, CA) data by using the PennCNV v1.0.5 and QuantiSNP v2 tools. This result shows that the ASIP CNV segregates in non-white breeds. To gain new insights into this issue, we have estimated the copy number of the ASIP gene in 83 goats from 8 breeds with different coloration patterns using a real-time quantitative PCR approach. Our results showed an increased ASIP copy number not only in Saanen (3.50 ± 0.23 copies relative to the calibrator) and white Malagueña (3.51 ± 0.51 copies) goats, but also in the Murciano-Granadina breed (3.33 ± 0.58 copies) as well as in blond/brown individuals from the Malagueña (3.58 ± 0.73 copies) breed. The number of ASIP copies was not significantly different in these four caprine populations (P > 0.05). Moreover, we did not observe a trend towards increased ASIP copy number in breeds with predominantly white colors, such as Maltese (2.85 ± 0.28 copies), Jonica (2.82 ± 0.39 copies) and Blanca de Rasquera (2.37 ± 0.33 copies). Our results, combined with recent findings demonstrating the high structural complexity of the ASIP locus, indicate that additional functional and expression studies should be performed in order to fully understand the role of ASIP structural variation in goat pigmentation.

Original languageEnglish
Article number104440
JournalLivestock Production Science
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2021


  • ASIP
  • copy number variation
  • pigmentation
  • real-time quantitative PCR


Dive into the research topics of 'Estimating the copy number of the agouti signaling protein (ASIP) gene in goat breeds with different color patterns'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this