Mutations that create or destroy microRNA binding sites in genes appear abundant in humans and mice and could affect genetic function, scientists report in the June 4 online edition of Nature Genetics.The study "is going to suggest to people that a lot of variation in phenotypes in mammals may be due to these target sites," James Womack at Texas A&M University in College Station, who did not participate in the study, told The Scientist.Study author Michel Georges, of the University of Liège in Belgium, and colleagues began the work to investigate why Texel sheep are exceptionally meaty. They crossed Texel sheep with another breed to generate offspring representing a range of 37 phenotypes with respect to muscularity, fat deposition and body composition. They mapped the locus to an interval encompassing the myostatin gene GDF8, loss of function of which causes double-muscling in mice, cattle and humans.The...

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