2013 Volume 24 Issue 3 Pages 31-36
Genetic polymorphisms in genes related to neurotransmitters or hormones affect personality or behavioral traits in many animal species including humans. In domestic animals, the allele frequency of such genes has been reported to be different among breeds and it may account for breed differences in behavior. In this study, we investigated breed differences in horses in the dopamine receptor D4 gene (DRD4), which has been reported to affect horse personality. We collected samples from seven horse breeds including those native to Japan and Korea, and compared the sequence of the DRD4 exon3 region among these breeds. We found that there were two types of polymorphisms (VNTR and SNPs) in the exon3 region, and some of them seemed to be breed-specific. In addition, we found that the allele frequency of G292A, reported to be associated with horse personality, differed greatly between native Japanese horses and Thoroughbred horses. The frequency of the A allele which is associated with low curiosity and high vigilance, was much lower in native Japanese horses (Hokkaido, 0.03; Taishu, 0.08) than in Thoroughbreds (0.62). This difference may account for breed differences in personality or behavioral traits. Further studies of the function of these polymorphisms and their effect on behavior are indicated.