A genome-wide association study of copy number variations with umbilical hernia in swine

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Umbilical hernia (UH) is one of the most common congenital defects in pigs, leading to considerable economic loss and serious animal welfare problems. To test whether copy number variations (CNVs) contribute to pig UH, we performed a case–control genome-wide CNV association study on 905 pigs from the Duroc, Landrace and Yorkshire breeds using the Porcine SNP60 BeadChip and penncnv algorithm. We first constructed a genomic map comprising 6193 CNVs that pertain to 737 CNV regions. Then, we identified eight CNVs significantly associated with the risk for UH in the three pig breeds. Six of seven significantly associated CNVs were validated using quantitative real-time PCR. Notably, a rare CNV (CNV14:13030843–13059455) encompassing the NUGGC gene was strongly associated with UH (permutation-corrected P = 0.0015) in Duroc pigs. This CNV occurred exclusively in seven Duroc UH-affected individuals. SNPs surrounding the CNV did not show association signals, indicating that rare CNVs may play an important role in complex pig diseases such as UH. The NUGGC gene has been implicated in human omphalocele and inguinal hernia. Our finding supports that CNVs, including the NUGGC CNV, contribute to the pathogenesis of pig UH.

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