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Identification and validation of a regulatory mutation upstream of the BMP2 gene associated with carcass length in pigs
Genetics Selection Evolution  (IF5.1),  Pub Date : 2021-12-14, DOI: 10.1186/s12711-021-00689-0
Li, Jing, Peng, Song, Zhong, Liepeng, Zhou, Lisheng, Yan, Guorong, Xiao, Shijun, Ma, Junwu, Huang, Lusheng

Carcass length is very important for body size and meat production for swine, thus understanding the genetic mechanisms that underly this trait is of great significance in genetic improvement programs for pigs. Although many quantitative trait loci (QTL) have been detected in pigs, very few have been fine-mapped to the level of the causal mutations. The aim of this study was to identify potential causal single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) for carcass length by integrating a genome-wide association study (GWAS) and functional assays. Here, we present a GWAS in a commercial Duroc × (Landrace × Yorkshire) (DLY) population that reveals a prominent association signal (P = 4.49E−07) on pig chromosome 17 for carcass length, which was further validated in two other DLY populations. Within the detected 1 Mb region, the BMP2 gene stood out as the most likely causal candidate because of its functions in bone growth and development. Whole-genome gene expression studies showed that the BMP2 gene was differentially expressed in the cartilage tissues of pigs with extreme carcass length. Then, we genotyped an additional 267 SNPs in 500 selected DLY pigs, followed by further whole-genome SNP imputation, combined with deep genome resequencing data on multiple pig breeds. Reassociation analyses using genotyped and imputed SNP data revealed that the rs320706814 SNP, located approximately 123 kb upstream of the BMP2 gene, was the strongest candidate causal mutation, with a large association with carcass length, with a ~ 4.2 cm difference in length across all three DLY populations (N = 1501; P = 3.66E−29). This SNP segregated in all parental lines of the DLY (Duroc, Large White and Landrace) and was also associated with a significant effect on body length in 299 pure Yorkshire pigs (P = 9.2E−4), which indicates that it has a major value for commercial breeding. Functional assays showed that this SNP is likely located within an enhancer and may affect the binding affinity of transcription factors, thereby regulating BMP2 gene expression. Taken together, these results suggest that the rs320706814 SNP on pig chromosome 17 is a putative causal mutation for carcass length in the widely used DLY pigs and has great value in breeding for body size in pigs.