Polymorphism in pattern recognition receptor genes in pigs
Sammanfattning: The mammalian immune defense consists of two systems, which are interconnected and co-operate to provide host defense. The innate immune system is always active and detects and responds to non-self without delay. The adaptive immune system has a lag phase, but is more specific and has got a memory. The innate immune system relies on pattern recognition receptors (PRRs) to detect molecular patterns signaling microbial presence. This thesis focuses on a centrally placed family of PRRs, namely the Toll-like receptors (TLRs), and on mannan-binding lectin (MBL), a PRR which initiates the lectin activation pathway of complement. TLRs are expressed on the cell surface and in intracellular compartments, while MBL is a soluble protein present in most body fluids. Polymorphism – literally ’many forms’ – refers to variation between individuals, at DNA level as well as in traits. A single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) implicates that alternative nucleotides are present at a particular position in the genome. Mutations, together with phenomena like gene duplication and whole genome duplication, are the ultimate source of variation in nature and the fuel for evolution. Through natural selection and breeding, i.e. artificial selection, species are shaped and change over time. Domestic animals are well suited for genetic studies, since they enable comparisons of populations exposed to different selection criteria and environmental challenges. Also, in the case of pigs, comparisons to the wild ancestor – i.e. the wild boar – can shed light on the evolutionary process. Moreover, pigs are large animal models for humans. Paper I reports the refinement of previously identified quantitative trait loci for immune-related traits on pig chromosome 8. Papers II and III report differences in polymorphic patterns between wild boars and domestic pigs in the TLR1, TLR2, TLR6, and TLR10 genes. In TLR1 and TLR2, more SNPs were present in the domestic pigs than in the wild boars. In TLR6, SNP numbers were similar in both animal groups, but the level of heterozygosity was higher in the domestic pigs than in the wild boars. In TLR10, again, more SNPs were present in the domestic pigs, and a higher number of non-synonymous SNPs was detected in TLR10 compared to the other genes. This might suggest redundancy for TLR10 in pigs. Paper IV reports the presence of an SNP, previously detected in domestic pigs and assumed to affect MBL concentrations in serum, in European wild boars. Also, the connection between the presumed low-producing allele and low MBL concentration in serum was confirmed. Moreover, a novel SNP, with potential to be functionally important, was detected. Owing to the domestication process and differences in selection pressure, differences in polymorphic patterns between wild boars and domestic pigs are not surprising. However, since breeding means choosing among genotypes, the opposite pattern – more SNPs in wild boars than in domestic pigs – would have been expected. However, the result confirms other studies, which have shown that European wild boars went through a bottle neck before domestication started. The higher number of SNPs in domestic pigs may be due to relaxed purifying selection during the domestication process.
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