Fine Mapping of a Major Backfat QTL Reveals a Causal Regulatory Variant Affecting the CCND2 Gene

Haniel C. Oliveira, Martijn F.L. Derks*, Marcos S. Lopes, Ole Madsen, Barbara Harlizius, Maren van Son, Eli H. Grindflek, Marta Gòdia, Arne B. Gjuvsland, Pamela Itajara Otto, Martien A.M. Groenen, Simone E.F. Guimaraes

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


Backfat is an important trait in pork production, and it has been included in the breeding objectives of genetic companies for decades. Although adipose tissue is a good energy storage, excessive fat results in reduced efficiency and economical losses. A large QTL for backfat thickness on chromosome 5 is still segregating in different commercial pig breeds. We fine mapped this QTL region using a genome-wide association analysis (GWAS) with 133,358 genotyped animals from five commercial populations (Landrace, Pietrain, Large White, Synthetic, and Duroc) imputed to the porcine 660K SNP chip. The lead SNP was located at 5:66103958 (G/A) within the third intron of the CCND2 gene, with the G allele associated with more backfat, while the A allele is associated with less backfat. We further phased the QTL region to discover a core haplotype of five SNPs associated with low backfat across three breeds. Linkage disequilibrium analysis using whole-genome sequence data revealed three candidate causal variants within intronic regions and downstream of the CCND2 gene, including the lead SNP. We evaluated the association of the lead SNP with the expression of the genes in the QTL region (including CCND2) in a large cohort of 100 crossbred samples, sequenced in four different tissues (lung, spleen, liver, muscle). Results show that the A allele increases the expression of CCND2 in an additive way in three out of four tissues. Our findings indicate that the causal variant for this QTL region is a regulatory variant within the third intron of the CCND2 gene affecting the expression of CCND2.

Original languageEnglish
Article number871516
JournalFrontiers in Genetics
Publication statusPublished - 25 May 2022


  • animal breeding
  • backfat
  • finemapping
  • GWAS
  • pig genomics


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