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MUC6, Rough and Tough Gene

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Goats are considered to be the first animals domesticated, around 11,000 years ago in the ancient Fertile Crescent. It is a tough breed and has survived multiple adventures from crossing Atlantic Ocean to fighting parasites.

Jiang Yu, an animal geneticist at Northwest A&F University, and an international team has now found the gene that makes the domesticated goats tough. It is the version of the MUC6 gene that came from a wild goat called the West Caucasian tur. The team has calculated that the MUC6 gene entered the goat genome 7200 years ago most probably through interbreeding. The MUC6 gene codes for a protein found in the lining of the gut. In other animals, it is part of the immune defence system. This gene helps goats to fight the parasites better. There are other genes too that came from wild goats about the same time, 7200 years ago.

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