The LDHA gene provides instructions for making a protein called lactate dehydrogenase-A, which is one piece of the lactate dehydrogenase enzyme. Lactate is made by muscle fibers and is what causes the pain in skeletal muscle tissue when doing physical efforts, related to endurance, speed and power. Skeletal muscles are those muscles involved in movement. It’s these muscles that are being trained when an athlete goes from arobic to anaerobic phase.
During high-intensity physical activity Skeletal muscles need increased amounts of energy. Anaerobic exercise occurs when the body’s oxygen intake is not sufficient for the amount of energy required. To create additional energy, glucose stored in the body as glycogen gets broken down. During the breakdown of glycogen, the lactate dehydrogenase enzyme converts the molecule pyruvate into a similar molecule called lactate, which can be used by the body for energy.
The pain in these muscles during and after high physical exertion is in part a result of lactate buildup. The more an athlete reaches their maximum effort, the more lactate is made by the muscle fibers.
Research conducted by several groups has shown that mutations in Lactate dehydrogenase enzyme (LDHA) has been linked to overall performance in racing pigeons. These alleles (variations in a gene) have been labeled the names A (A) and B (G). Research suggests that genotype A was found significantly more often in top performances pigeons. There are 3 possible genotypes with these alleles, BB, AB and AA. The A allele is a rare variation, found in less then 12% of normal racing pigeons and less then 1% of pigeons had the statisticlly more favorable AA genotype. It is important to mention that some top racing pigeons are BB genotype meaning that the A allele is not absolutely necessary to be able to perform at a high level. This suggests that additional genes are involved in race performance including speed and distance.
|A/A||The pigeon carries two copies of the A allele and is homozygous for A. The pigeon statistically is a better race performance bird. The pigeon will only pass on the A allele and not the B.|
|A/B||The pigeon carries both A and B alleles. The pigeon can pass on either the A or B allele 50% on the time.|
|B/B||The pigeon carries two copies B allele and is homozygous for B. The pigeon will only pass on the B allele and not the A.|