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BMC Genomics. 2012 Nov 15;13:582. doi: 10.1186/1471-2164-13-582.

First survey and functional annotation of prohormone and convertase genes in the pig.

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  • 1Department of Animal Sciences, University of Illinois, Urbana, IL 61801, USA.



The pig is a biomedical model to study human and livestock traits. Many of these traits are controlled by neuropeptides that result from the cleavage of prohormones by prohormone convertases. Only 45 prohormones have been confirmed in the pig. Sequence homology can be ineffective to annotate prohormone genes in sequenced species like the pig due to the multifactorial nature of the prohormone processing. The goal of this study is to undertake the first complete survey of prohormone and prohormone convertases genes in the pig genome. These genes were functionally annotated based on 35 gene expression microarray experiments. The cleavage sites of prohormone sequences into potentially active neuropeptides were predicted.


We identified 95 unique prohormone genes, 2 alternative calcitonin-related sequences, 8 prohormone convertases and 1 cleavage facilitator in the pig genome 10.2 assembly and trace archives. Of these, 11 pig prohormone genes have not been reported in the UniProt, UniGene or Gene databases. These genes are intermedin, cortistatin, insulin-like 5, orexigenic neuropeptide QRFP, prokineticin 2, prolactin-releasing peptide, parathyroid hormone 2, urocortin, urocortin 2, urocortin 3, and urotensin 2-related peptide. In addition, a novel neuropeptide S was identified in the pig genome correcting the previously reported pig sequence that is identical to the rabbit sequence. Most differentially expressed prohormone genes were under-expressed in pigs experiencing immune challenge relative to the un-challenged controls, in non-pregnant relative to pregnant sows, in old relative to young embryos, and in non-neural relative to neural tissues. The cleavage prediction based on human sequences had the best performance with a correct classification rate of cleaved and non-cleaved sites of 92% suggesting that the processing of prohormones in pigs is similar to humans. The cleavage prediction models did not find conclusive evidence supporting the production of the bioactive neuropeptides urocortin 2, urocortin 3, torsin family 2 member A, tachykinin 4, islet amyloid polypeptide, and calcitonin receptor-stimulating peptide 2 in the pig.


The present genomic and functional characterization supports the use of the pig as an effective animal model to gain a deeper understanding of prohormones, prohormone convertases and neuropeptides in biomedical and agricultural research.

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