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Genome-wide association study for conformation traits in three Danish pig breeds

Le, ThuH., Christensen, OleF., Nielsen, Bjarne, Sahana, Goutam
Genetics, selection, evolution 2017 v.49 no.1 pp. 12
Duroc, Sus scrofa, genes, genetic factors, genetic traits, genetic variance, genetic variation, genome-wide association study, lameness, landraces, leg weakness, lipid metabolism, marker-assisted selection, meta-analysis, muscle development, muscles, pleiotropy, quantitative trait loci, single nucleotide polymorphism, skeleton, swine
BACKGROUND: Selection for sound conformation has been widely used as a primary approach to reduce lameness and leg weakness in pigs. Identification of genomic regions that affect conformation traits would help to improve selection accuracy for these lowly to moderately heritable traits. Our objective was to identify genetic factors that underlie leg and back conformation traits in three Danish pig breeds by performing a genome-wide association study followed by meta-analyses. METHODS: Data on four conformation traits (front leg, back, hind leg and overall conformation) for three Danish pig breeds (23,898 Landrace, 24,130 Yorkshire and 16,524 Duroc pigs) were used for association analyses. Estimated effects of single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) from single-trait association analyses were combined in two meta-analyses: (1) a within-breed meta-analysis for multiple traits to examine if there are pleiotropic genetic variants within a breed; and (2) an across-breed meta-analysis for a single trait to examine if the same quantitative trait loci (QTL) segregate across breeds. SNP annotation was implemented through Sus scrofa Build 10.2 on Ensembl to search for candidate genes. RESULTS: Among the 14, 12 and 13 QTL that were detected in the single-trait association analyses for the three breeds, the most significant SNPs explained 2, 2.3 and 11.4% of genetic variance for back quality in Landrace, overall conformation in Yorkshire and back quality in Duroc, respectively. Several candidate genes for these QTL were also identified, i.e. LRPPRC, WRAP73, VRTN and PPARD likely control conformation traits through the regulation of bone and muscle development, and IGF2BP2, GH1, CCND2 and MSH2 can have an influence through growth-related processes. Meta-analyses not only confirmed many significant SNPs from single-trait analyses with higher significance levels, but also detected several additional associated SNPs and suggested QTL with possible pleiotropic effects. CONCLUSIONS: Our results imply that conformation traits are complex and may be partly controlled by genes that are involved in bone and skeleton development, muscle and fat metabolism, and growth processes. A reliable list of QTL and candidate genes was provided that can be used in fine-mapping and marker assisted selection to improve conformation traits in pigs.