Despite major advances, it is estimated that a large part of melanoma predisposing genes remains to be discovered. Animal models of spontaneous diseases are valuable tools and experimental crosses can be used to identify and fine-map new susceptibility loci associated with melanoma. We performed a Genome-Wide Association Study (GWAS) of melanoma occurrence and progression (clinical ulceration and presence of metastasis) in a porcine model of spontaneous melanoma, the MeLiM pig. Five loci on chromosomes 2, 5, 7, 8 and 16 showed genome-wide significant associations (p < 5 × 10-6) with either one of these phenotypes. Suggestive associations (p < 5 × 10-5) were also found at 16 additional loci. Moreover, comparison of the porcine results to those reported by human melanoma GWAS indicated shared association signals notably at CDKAL1 and TERT loci but also nearby CCND1, FTO, PLA2G6 and TMEM38B-RAD23B loci. Extensive search of the literature revealed a potential key role of genes at the identified porcine loci in tumor invasion (DST, PLEKHA5, CBY1, LIMK2 and ETV5) and immune response modulation (ETV5, HERC3 and DICER1) of the progression phenotypes. These biological processes are consistent with the clinico-pathological features of MeLiM tumors and can open new routes for future melanoma research in humans.
Keywords: GWAS; biomedical model; comparative genomics; melanoma; pig.