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Decoded domestic pig genome
#1
Domestic pig (Sus scrofa) originates from the wild boar. It is domesticated ~13 000 years BC. People cultivate pigs mainly for their meat. Their bones and hair are used for brush production. Some types of pigs are popular nowadays as pets. Pigs are intelligent animals that share a lot of anatomical similarities with humans, which is the reason they are used for organ transplantations. Domesticated pigs could be found everywhere. They are the most numerous large mammals on the Earth with over 1 billion pigs present at each moment. Their genome is finally decoded.

Last mutual ancestor for pig and human lived ~ 97 million years ago. Sus scrofa emerged in East Asia ~ 3.5 million years ago. Pig has 18 autosomal chromosome pairs and one sex determining pair. There are 21,640 protein coding genes, and 1,478 mitochondrial genes. Beside protein coding genes, 2,965 non-coding RNA sequences and 380 pseudogenes were identified. 15,072 protein coding sequences are mutual for various species and 3,959 are pig specific. Identification of the porcine endogenous retroviruses (PERVs) was important because they could be transfered to humans during organ transplantations. Their number exceeds 175 in porcine genome. Analysis of 9,000 orthologs (genes that share same ancestor) in six species (dog, human, mouse, horse, cow and pig) provided info on genetic modulation during evolution. 311 proteins in pig were marked as quickly evolving. Genes associated with psychiatric disorders, various cancers, cardiovascular disease, immune diseases and metabolic and neurological disease in humans were easily located in the porcine genome. Altered proteins typical for certain human diseases were analyzed in pigs also. Aligned human and pig orthologous proteins showed 1,393,618 positions where amino acid differ. 112 substitutions are associated with human diseases such as: diabetes, obesity, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, dyslexia… 32,548 non-sense mutations identified in 48 pigs revealed 6 protein variant that induce disease in humans. Another 157 non-sense mutations in 142 genes result in following human diseases: corneal dystrophy, hemolytic anemia, epidermolysis bullosa, laryngoonychocutaneous syndrome, paroxysmal nonkinesigenic dyskinesia 1, mental retardation, susceptibility to autoimmune disease development and sepsis, congenital contractural arachnodactyly, citrullinemia and pancreatic carcinoma.

Genetic similarity between humans and pigs will help scientists find better therapeutic solutions for existing diseases. Even before genetic similarity between pigs and humans was established, these animals were used as biomodels because their physiology, biochemistry and anatomy match perfectly to humans.

Retinitis pigmentosa is severe degenerative ocular disorder associated with progressive loss of rods, leading to night blindness first (usually in puberty), followed by progressive loss of cones resulting in complete blindness around the age of 40. It is not curable, and until recently, animal model used for disease analysis was transgenic mouse. Besides being too small for surgical operations, number of cones in two species is different. Development of a transgenic pig helped experiments a lot. Disease phenotype resembles human disease completely; first symptoms appear in 5-6 months old pig and complete disease progression is achieved after 20 months.

Cystic fibrosis is another example of severe genetic disorder that was easily established in the pig model. Disease disrupts normal functioning of lungs, pancreas and intestines, and leads to fibrous scars and cyst formation. It is characteristic for caucasians; one out of 25 European descendents carry allele for cystic fibrosis resulting in high prevalence of disease in European Union (one out of 2000-3000 babies will develop cystic fibrosis). Few treatment methods exist but disorder is not curable yet. Again, mice weren’t the perfect models for cystic fibrosis analysis because they don’t exhibit lung and pancreatic disorders (responsible for highest morbidity and mortality rate in humans). Transgenic pigs with cystic fibrosis were easily developed. Viral vector carrying altered genetic particle (delta F508 mutation, responsible for cystic fibrosis) will target cystic fibrosis transmembrane receptor gene in pig fetal fibroblast. Nucleus from the modified fibroblasts will be transferred to oocyte prior fertilization. Once heterozygous pigs (carrying altered cystic fibrosis transmembrane receptor gene) are born, they could serve as ideal models for future studies in the field of cystic fibrosis.

Humans and pigs are tightly connected for thousands of years. These animals were exploited in numerous ways throughout the history. Now when their genome is decoded they will probably accelerate research associated with untreatable human diseases and potentially provide medical solutions in the near future.
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#2
Thanks, to sharing the information about Decoded domestic pig genome. It's useful information. Pig heart valves are being used by surgeons to replace faulty human ones. pigs may be a useful model for predicting outcomes in humans.
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