About the existence of common determinants of gene expression in the porcine liver and skeletal muscle

Rayner González-Prendes, Emilio Mármol-Sánchez, Raquel Quintanilla, Anna Castelló, Ali Zidi, Yuliaxis Ramayo-Caldas, Tainã Figueiredo Cardoso, Arianna Manunza, Ángela Cánovas, Marcel Amills

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3 Citations (Scopus)


© 2019 The Author(s). Background: The comparison of expression QTL (eQTL) maps obtained in different tissues is an essential step to understand how gene expression is genetically regulated in a context-dependent manner. In the current work, we have compared the transcriptomic and eQTL profiles of two porcine tissues (skeletal muscle and liver) which typically show highly divergent expression profiles, in 103 Duroc pigs genotyped with the Porcine SNP60 BeadChip (Illumina) and with available microarray-based measurements of hepatic and muscle mRNA levels. Since structural variation could have effects on gene expression, we have also investigated the co-localization of cis-eQTLs with copy number variant regions (CNVR) segregating in this Duroc population. Results: The analysis of differential expresssion revealed the existence of 1204 and 1490 probes that were overexpressed and underexpressed in the gluteus medius muscle when compared to liver, respectively (|fold-change| > 1.5, q-value < 0.05). By performing genome scans in 103 Duroc pigs with available expression and genotypic data, we identified 76 and 28 genome-wide significant cis-eQTLs regulating gene expression in the gluteus medius muscle and liver, respectively. Twelve of these cis-eQTLs were shared by both tissues (i.e. 42.8% of the cis-eQTLs identified in the liver were replicated in the gluteus medius muscle). These results are consistent with previous studies performed in humans, where 50% of eQTLs were shared across tissues. Moreover, we have identified 41 CNVRs in a set of 350 pigs from the same Duroc population, which had been genotyped with the Porcine SNP60 BeadChip by using the PennCNV and GADA softwares, but only a small proportion of these CNVRs co-localized with the cis-eQTL signals. Conclusion: Despite the fact that there are considerable differences in the gene expression patterns of the porcine liver and skeletal muscle, we have identified a substantial proportion of common cis-eQTLs regulating gene expression in both tissues. Several of these cis-eQTLs influence the mRNA levels of genes with important roles in meat (CTSF) and carcass quality (TAPT1), lipid metabolism (TMEM97) and obesity (MARC2), thus evidencing the practical importance of dissecting the genetic mechanisms involved in their expression.
Original languageEnglish
Article number518
Pages (from-to)518
Number of pages15
JournalBMC Genomics
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 24 Jun 2019


  • Animals
  • Gene Dosage
  • Gene Expression Profiling
  • Gene Expression Regulation
  • Liver/metabolism
  • Male
  • Muscle, Skeletal/metabolism
  • Quantitative Trait Loci
  • Swine/genetics
  • Transcriptome


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