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Open Access Research article

Analysis of porcine MUC4 gene as a candidate gene for prolificacy QTL on SSC13 in an Iberian × Meishan F2 population

Ingrid Balcells1*, Anna Castelló1, Anna Mercadé2, José L Noguera3, Amanda Fernández-Rodríguez4, Armand Sànchez12 and Anna Tomàs5

Author affiliations

1 Departament de Genètica Animal, Centre de Recerca en Agrigenòmica (CRAG), Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, 08193 Bellaterra, Spain

2 Servei Veterinari de Genètica Molecular, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, 08193 Bellaterra, Spain

3 Genètica i Millora Animal, IRTA-Lleida, 25198 Lleida, Spain

4 Departamento de Mejora Genética Animal, SGIT-INIA, 28040 Madrid, Spain

5 Program Infection and Immunity, FISIB, 07110 Bunyola, Spain

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Citation and License

BMC Genetics 2011, 12:93  doi:10.1186/1471-2156-12-93

Published: 31 October 2011

Abstract

Background

Reproductive traits, such as prolificacy, are of great interest to the pig industry. Better understanding of their genetic architecture should help to increase the efficiency of pig productivity through the implementation of marker assisted selection (MAS) programmes.

Results

The Mucin 4 (MUC4) gene has been evaluated as a candidate gene for a prolificacy QTL described in an Iberian × Meishan (Ib × Me) F2 intercross. For association analyses, two previously described SNPs (DQ124298:g.243A>G and DQ124298:g.344A>G) were genotyped in 347 pigs from the Ib × Me population. QTL for the number of piglets born alive (NBA) and for the total number of piglets born (TNB) were confirmed on SSC13 at positions 44 cM and 51 cM, respectively. The MUC4 gene was successfully located within the confidence intervals of both QTL. Only DQ124298:g.344A>G MUC4 polymorphism was significantly associated with both NBA and TNB (P-value < 0.05) with favourable effects coming from the Meishan origin. MUC4 expression level was determined in F2 sows displaying extreme phenotypes for the number of embryos (NE) at 30-32 days of gestation. Differences in the uterine expression of MUC4 were found between high (NE ≥ 13) and low (NE ≤ 11) prolificacy sows. Overall, MUC4 expression in high prolificacy sows was almost two-fold increased compared with low prolificacy sows.

Conclusions

Our data suggest that MUC4 could play an important role in the establishment of an optimal uterine environment that would increase embryonic survival during pig gestation.