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The effect of enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli F4ab,ac on early-weaned piglets: A gene expression study

Schroyen, M., Goddeeris, B.M., Stinckens, A., Verhelst, R., Janssens, S., Cox, E., Georges, M., Niewold, T., Buys, N.
Veterinary immunology and immunopathology 2013 v.152 no.1-2 pp. 87-92
bacteria, diarrhea, enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli, farming systems, fimbriae, gene expression, gene expression regulation, genes, immune response, industry, linkage disequilibrium, mucins, mutation, phenotype, piglets, receptors, transferrin
Diarrhoea in neonatal and early-weaned piglets due to enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli-F4 (ETEC-F4) is an important problem in the pig farming industry. There is substantial evidence for a genetic basis for susceptibility to ETEC-F4 since not all pigs suffer from diarrhoea after an ETEC-F4 infection. A region on SSC13 has been found to be in close linkage to the susceptibility of piglets for ETEC-F4ab,ac. Potential candidate genes on SSC13 have been examined and although some polymorphisms were found to be in linkage disequilibrium with the phenotype, the causative mutation has not yet been found. In this study we are looking at the expression of porcine genes in relation to ETEC-F4ab,ac. With the aid of the Affymetrix GeneChip Porcine Genome Array we were able to find differentially expressed genes between ETEC-F4ab,ac receptor positive (Fab,acR+) piglets without diarrhoea and F4ab,acR+ piglets with diarrhoea or F4ab,acR− animals. Since the susceptibility to ETEC-F4ab,ac was described as a Mendelian trait, it is not so surprisingly that only two differentially expressed genes, transferrin receptor (TFRC) and trefoil factor 1 (TFF1), came out of the analysis. Although both genes could pass for functional candidate genes only TFRC also mapped to the region on SSC13 associated with susceptibility for ETEC-F4, which makes TFRC a positional functional candidate gene. Validation by qRT-PCR confirmed the differential expression of TFRC and TFF1. In piglets without diarrhoea, the expression of both genes was higher in F4ab,acR+ than in F4ab,acR− piglets. Similarly, TFRC and TFF1 expression in F4ab,acR+ piglets without diarrhoea was also higher than in F4ab,acR+ piglets with diarrhoea. Consequently, although both genes might not play a role as receptor for F4 fimbriae, they could be of great importance during an ETEC-F4 outbreak. An upregulation of TFRC can be a consequence of the piglets ability to raise an effective immune response. An elevation of TFF1, a protein involved in mucin formation, may also affect the piglet's capability to cope with ETEC bacteria, rather than being a receptor for its fimbriae.