A sequence polymorphism in MSTN predicts sprinting ability and racing stamina in thoroughbred horses

Emmeline W Hill, Jingjing Gu, Suzanne S Eivers, Rita G Fonseca, Beatrice A McGivney, Preethi Govindarajan, Nick Orr, Lisa M Katz, David E MacHugh, David MacHugh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

138 Citations (Scopus)


Variants of the MSTN gene encoding myostatin are associated with muscle hypertrophy phenotypes in a range of mammalian species, most notably cattle, dogs, mice, and humans. Using a sample of registered Thoroughbred horses (n = 148), we have identified a novel MSTN sequence polymorphism that is strongly associated (g.66493737C>T, P = 4.85x10(-8)) with best race distance among elite racehorses (n = 79). This observation was independently validated (P = 1.91x10(-6)) in a resampled group of Thoroughbreds (n = 62) and in a cohort of Thoroughbreds (n = 37, P = 0.0047) produced by the same trainer. We observed that C/C horses are suited to fast, short-distance races; C/T horses compete favorably in middle-distance races; and T/T horses have greater stamina. Evaluation of retrospective racecourse performance (n = 142) and stallion progeny performance predict that C/C and C/T horses are more likely to be successful two-year-old racehorses than T/T animals. Here we describe for the first time the identification of a gene variant in Thoroughbred racehorses that is predictive of genetic potential for an athletic phenotype.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)e8645
JournalPloS one
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 20 Jan 2010


  • Animals
  • Genotype
  • Horses
  • Myostatin
  • Polymorphism, Single Nucleotide
  • Running
  • Journal Article
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

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