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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

A genome-wide scan for quantitative trait loci affecting limb bone lengths and areal bone mineral density of the distal femur in a White Duroc × Erhualian F2 population

Huirong Mao1, Yuanmei Guo12, Guangcheng Yang1, Bin Yang1, Jun Ren1, Sanfeng Liu1, Huashui Ai1, Junwu Ma1, Bertram Brenig2 and Lusheng Huang1*

Author Affiliations

1 Key Laboratory for Animal Biotechnology of Jiangxi Province and the Ministry of Agriculture of China, Jiangxi Agricultural University, Nanchang 330045, PR China

2 Institute of Veterinary Medicine, Georg-August-University of Göttingen, Burckhardtweg 2, 37077 Göttingen, Germany

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BMC Genetics 2008, 9:63  doi:10.1186/1471-2156-9-63

Published: 8 October 2008

Abstract

Background

Limb bone lengths and bone mineral density (BMD) have been used to assess the bone growth and the risk of bone fractures in pigs, respectively. It has been suggested that limb bone lengths and BMD are under genetic control. However, the knowledge about the genetic basis of the limb bone lengths and mineralisatinon is limited in pigs. The aim of this study was to identify quantitative trait loci (QTL) affecting limb bone lengths and BMD of the distal femur in a White Duroc × Erhualian resource population.

Results

Limb bone lengths and femoral bone mineral density (fBMD) were measured in a total of 1021 and 116 F2 animals, respectively. There were strong positive correlations among the lengths of limb bones and medium positive correlations between the lengths of limb bones and fBMD. A whole-genome scan involving 183 microsatellite markers across the pig genome revealed 35 QTL for the limb bone lengths and 2 for femoral BMD. The most significant QTL for the lengths of five limb bones were mapped on two chromosomes affecting all 5 limb bones traits. One was detected around 57 cM on pig chromosome (SSC) 7 with the largest F-value of more than 26 and 95% confidence intervals of less than 5 cM, providing a crucial start point to identify the causal genes for these traits. The Erhualian alleles were associated with longer limb bones. The other was located on SSCX with a peak at 50–53 cM, whereas alleles from the White Duroc breed increased the bone length. Many QTL identified are homologous to the human genomic regions containing QTL for bone-related traits and a list of interesting candidate genes.

Conclusion

This study detected the QTL for the lengths of scapula, ulna, humerus and tibia and fBMD in the pig for the first time. Moreover, several new QTL for the pig femoral length were found. As correlated traits, QTL for the lengths of five limb bones were mainly located in the same genomic regions. The most promising QTL for the lengths of five limb bones on SSC7 merits further investigation.