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Integrated Genome-wide association and hypothalamus eQTL studies indicate a link between the circadian rhythm-related gene PER1 and coping behavior

Ponsuksili, S., Zebunke, M., Murani, E. et al.

Animal personality and coping styles are basic concepts for evaluating animal welfare. Struggling response of piglets in so-called backtests early in life reflects their coping strategy. Behavioral reactions of piglets in backtests have a moderate heritability, but their genetic basis largely remains unknown. Here, latency, duration and frequency of struggling attempts during one-minute backtests were repeatedly recorded of piglets at days 5, 12, 19, and 26. A genome-wide association study for backtest traits revealed 465 significant SNPs (FDR ≤ 0.05) mostly located in QTL (quantitative trait locus) regions on chromosome 3, 5, 12 and 16. In order to capture genes in these regions, 37 transcripts with significant SNPs were selected for expressionQTL analysis in the hypothalamus. Eight genes (ASGR1, CPAMD8, CTC1, FBXO39, IL19, LOC100511790, RAD51B, UBOX5) had cis- and five (RANGRF, PER1, PDZRN3, SH2D4B, LONP2) had trans-expressionQTL. In particular, for PER1, with known physiological implications for maintenance of circadian rhythms, a role in coping behavior was evidenced by confirmed association in an independent population. For CTC1 a cis-expression QTL and the consistent relationship of gene polymorphism, mRNA expression level and backtest traits promoted its link to coping style. GWAS and eQTL analyses uncovered positional and functional gene candidates for coping behavior.

Citation

Ponsuksili, S., Zebunke, M., Murani, E. et al. "Integrated Genome-wide association and hypothalamus eQTL studies indicate a link between the circadian rhythm-related gene PER1 and coping behavior" Scientific Reports (2015): 16,264