Genome-wide DNA methylation profiles in Tibetan and Yorkshire pigs under high-altitude hypoxia

J Anim Sci Biotechnol. 2019 Feb 5:10:25. doi: 10.1186/s40104-019-0316-y. eCollection 2019.


Background: Tibetan pigs, which inhabit the Tibetan Plateau, exhibit distinct phenotypic and physiological characteristics from those of lowland pigs and have adapted well to the extreme conditions at high altitude. However, the genetic and epigenetic mechanisms of hypoxic adaptation in animals remain unclear.

Methods: Whole-genome DNA methylation data were generated for heart tissues of Tibetan pigs grown in the highland (TH, n = 4) and lowland (TL, n = 4), as well as Yorkshire pigs grown in the highland (YH, n = 4) and lowland (YL, n = 4), using methylated DNA immunoprecipitation sequencing.

Results: We obtained 480 million reads and detected 280679, 287224, 259066, and 332078 methylation enrichment peaks in TH, YH, TL, and YL, respectively. Pairwise TH vs. YH, TL vs. YL, TH vs. TL, and YH vs. YL comparisons revealed 6829, 11997, 2828, and 1286 differentially methylated regions (DMRs), respectively. These DMRs contained 384, 619, 192, and 92 differentially methylated genes (DMGs), respectively. DMGs that were enriched in the hypoxia-inducible factor 1 signaling pathway and pathways involved in cancer and hypoxia-related processes were considered to be important candidate genes for high-altitude adaptation in Tibetan pigs.

Conclusions: This study elucidates the molecular and epigenetic mechanisms involved in hypoxic adaptation in pigs and may help further understand human hypoxia-related diseases.

Keywords: DNA methylation; Hypoxic adaptation; MeDIP-seq; Tibetan pig.