QTL Analysis in the Pig : From the Identification of Quantitative Trait Loci to the Understanding of Molecular Mechanisms

Sammanfattning: Domestic pigs have become very different form the wild ancestors they originate from. Selection for muscle growth and meat quality has made the pig a good model for genetic studies of muscle development.The first part of this thesis presents a genome-wide scan for quantitative trait loci (QTL) in a cross between Landrace and Hampshire pigs. Traits such as body composition, fat deposition, body length, meat quality and weight measurements of individual muscles were investigated. In total we identified 15 different QTLs that reached genome-wide significance. The three most significant QTLs were for carcass length on chromosome 17 and two overlapping QTLs on chromosome 1 for body composition and weight of M. biceps femoris, respectively. A strong candidate gene for the body composition QTL is melanocortin 4 receptor (MC4R). We also identified several QTLs for sizes of different muscles, fat deposition and meat quality traits.In a previous study using a cross between the domestic Large White and wild boar, the mutation underlying a major QTL for muscle growth and fat deposition was identified as a single nucleotide substitution (QTN) in intron 3 of the IGF2 gene. The QTN disrupts the binding of a repressor affecting IGF2 mRNA expression. In the second part of this thesis, the identification of the repressor is presented. The repressor, named ZBED6, is a previously unknown mammalian member of the BED-domain protein family. We could show that Zbed6 specifically binds the wild-type but not the mutated sequence surrounding the QTN. Further studies of silenced Zbed6 in the mouse myoblast cell line C2C12 showed that it represses transcription in a luciferase reporter assay and affects Igf2 mRNA transcription and proliferation. ZBED6 shows very high sequence conservation and has a broad tissue distribution of expression suggesting that ZBED6 also has important biological function outside the muscle cell.