Int J Biol Sci 2008; 4(6):345-351. doi:10.7150/ijbs.4.345

Short Research Communication

Significant associations of stearoyl-CoA desaturase (SCD1) gene with fat deposition and composition in skeletal muscle

Zhihua Jiang1 ✉, Jennifer J. Michal1, David J. Tobey1, Tyler F. Daniels1, Daniel C. Rule2, Michael D. MacNeil3

1. Department of Animal Sciences, Washington State University, Pullman, WA 99164-6351, USA
2. Department of Animal Science, University of Wyoming, Laramie, WY 82071-3684, USA
3. USDA-ARS, Fort Keogh Livestock and Range Research Laboratory, Miles City, MT 59301, USA


Gene expression studies in humans and animals have shown that elevated stearoyl-CoA desaturase (SCD1) activity is associated with increased fat accumulation and monounsaturation of saturated fatty acids in skeletal muscle. However, results of the two reported association studies in humans are inconsistent. In the present study, we annotated the bovine SCD1 gene and identified 3 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in its 3'untranslated region (UTR). Genotyping these SNPs on a Wagyu x Limousin reference population revealed that the SCD1 gene was significantly associated with six fat deposition and fatty acid composition traits in skeletal muscle, but not with subcutaneous fat depth and percent kidney-pelvic-heart fat. In particular, we confirmed that the high stearoyl-CoA desaturase activities/alleles were positively correlated with beef marbling score, amount of monounsaturated fatty acids and conjugated linoleic acid content, but negatively with amount of saturated fatty acids. The inconsistent associations between human studies might be caused by using different sets of markers because we observed that most associated markers are located near the end of 3'UTR. We found that the proximity of the polyadenylation signal site is highly conserved among human, cattle and pig, indicating that the region might contain functional elements involved in posttranscriptional control of SCD1 activity. In conclusion, our cross species study provided solid evidence to support SCD1 gene as a critical player in skeletal muscle fat metabolism.

Keywords: SCD1, SNPs, association, fat deposition, fatty acid composition.

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How to cite this article:
Jiang Z, Michal JJ, Tobey DJ, Daniels TF, Rule DC, MacNeil MD. Significant associations of stearoyl-CoA desaturase (SCD1) gene with fat deposition and composition in skeletal muscle. Int J Biol Sci 2008; 4(6):345-351. doi:10.7150/ijbs.4.345. Available from