A genome-wide single nucleotide polymorphism and copy number variation analysis for number of piglets born alive
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Background: In this study we integrated the CNV (copy number variation) and WssGWAS (weighted single-step approach for genome-wide association) analyses to increase the knowledge about number of piglets born alive, an economically important reproductive trait with significant impact on production efficiency of pigs. Results: A total of 3892 samples were genotyped with the Porcine SNP80 BeadChip. After quality control, a total of 57,962 high-quality SNPs from 3520 Duroc pigs were retained. The PennCNV algorithm identified 46,118 CNVs, which were aggregated by overlapping in 425 CNV regions (CNVRs) ranging from 2.5 Kb to 9718.4 Kb and covering 197 Mb (~ 7.01%) of the pig autosomal genome. The WssGWAS identified 16 genomic regions explaining more than 1% of the additive genetic variance for number of piglets born alive. The overlap between CNVR and WssGWAS analyses identified common regions on SSC2 (4.2-5.2 Mb), SSC3 (3.9-4.9 Mb), SSC12 (56.6-57.6 Mb), and SSC17 (17.3-18.3 Mb). Those regions are known for harboring important causative variants for pig reproductive traits based on their crucial functions in fertilization, development of gametes and embryos. Functional analysis by the Panther software identified 13 gene ontology biological processes significantly represented in this study such as reproduction, developmental process, cellular component organization or biogenesis, and immune system process, which plays relevant roles in swine reproductive traits. Conclusion: Our research helps to improve the understanding of the genetic architecture of number of piglets born alive, given that the combination of GWAS and CNV analyses allows for a more efficient identification of the genomic regions and biological processes associated with this trait in Duroc pigs. Pig breeding programs could potentially benefit from a more accurate discovery of important genomic regions.