2017 Student Research Conference:
30th Annual Student Research Conference

Rational Design of Canine MSTN: A Gene Related to Athletic Performance


Kelsey R. Wilson
Dr. Brent Buckner, Faculty Mentor

Myostatin is a growth factor that inhibits muscle cell growth and differentiation. In the Whippet dog breed, homozygosity for a mutant allele of MSTN leads to a double-muscled phenotype that makes these dogs less healthy overall. Heterozygotes are more muscular than wild-types and are significantly faster. Thus, variations in myostatin activity are correlated with athletic performance. We have rationally designed MSTN with a goal of enhancing athletic performance using two strategies based on different biological mechanisms. The amino acid substitution strategy uses deep evolutionary and bioinformatic analyses, allowing for identification of amino acids to substitute, thus slightly altering protein structure and function. The codon usage bias strategy considers the genomic tRNA pool and actual codon usage in MSTN to identify codons to modify with silent mutations, resulting in identical protein structure but less translation. We will discuss CRISPR technology by which these performance enhancing alleles could be genetically engineered into dogs and the related ethical implications. 

Keywords: genetics, myostatin, canine, athletic performance , genetic engineering

Topic(s):Biology

Presentation Type: Poster

Session: 6-
Location: GEO - SUB
Time: 

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