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Animal. 2016 Apr;10(4):550-7. doi: 10.1017/S1751731115002761. Epub 2015 Dec 22.

Identification of pleiotropic genes and gene sets underlying growth and immunity traits: a case study on Meishan pigs.

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1Department of Animal Science,School of Agriculture and Biology,Shanghai Jiao Tong University,Shanghai 200240,PR China.
3National Station of Animal Husbandry,Beijing 100125,PR China.


Both growth and immune capacity are important traits in animal breeding. The animal quantitative trait loci (QTL) database is a valuable resource and can be used for interpreting the genetic mechanisms that underlie growth and immune traits. However, QTL intervals often involve too many candidate genes to find the true causal genes. Therefore, the aim of this study was to provide an effective annotation pipeline that can make full use of the information of Gene Ontology terms annotation, linkage gene blocks and pathways to further identify pleiotropic genes and gene sets in the overlapping intervals of growth-related and immunity-related QTLs. In total, 55 non-redundant QTL overlapping intervals were identified, 1893 growth-related genes and 713 immunity-related genes were further classified into overlapping intervals and 405 pleiotropic genes shared by the two gene sets were determined. In addition, 19 pleiotropic gene linkage blocks and 67 pathways related to immunity and growth traits were discovered. A total of 343 growth-related genes and 144 immunity-related genes involved in pleiotropic pathways were also identified, respectively. We also sequenced and genotyped 284 individuals from Chinese Meishan pigs and European pigs and mapped the single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) to the pleiotropic genes and gene sets that we identified. A total of 971 high-confidence SNPs were mapped to the pleiotropic genes and gene sets that we identified, and among them 743 SNPs were statistically significant in allele frequency between Meishan and European pigs. This study explores the relationship between growth and immunity traits from the view of QTL overlapping intervals and can be generalized to explore the relationships between other traits.


QTL overlaps; growth; immunity; pleiotropy

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