Genomic population structure and prevalence of copy number variations in South African Nguni cattle

Wang, Magretha Diane ; Dzama, Kennedy ; Hefer, Charles A. ; Muchadeyi, Farai C. (2015-11)

CITATION: Wang, M. D., Dzama, K., Hefer, C. A. & Muchadeyi, F. C. 2015. Genomic population structure and prevalence of copy number variations in South African Nguni cattle. BMC Genomics, 16:894, doi:10.1186/s12864-015-2122-z.

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Background: Copy number variations (CNVs) are modifications in DNA structure comprising of deletions, duplications, insertions and complex multi-site variants. Although CNVs are proven to be involved in a variety of phenotypic discrepancies, the full extent and consequence of CNVs is yet to be understood. To date, no such genomic characterization has been performed in indigenous South African Nguni cattle. Nguni cattle are recognized for their ability to sustain harsh environmental conditions while exhibiting enhanced resistance to disease and parasites and are thought to comprise of up to nine different ecotypes. Methods: Illumina BovineSNP50 Beadchip data was utilized to investigate genomic population structure and the prevalence of CNVs in 492 South African Nguni cattle. PLINK, ADMIXTURE, R, gPLINK and Haploview software was utilized for quality control, population structure and haplotype block determination. PennCNV hidden Markov model identified CNVs and genes contained within and 10 Mb downstream from reported CNVs. PANTHER and Ensembl databases were subsequently utilized for gene annotation analyses. Results: Population structure analyses on Nguni cattle revealed 5 sub-populations with a possible sub-structure evident at K equal to 8. Four hundred and thirty three CNVs that formed 334 CNVRs ranging from 30 kb to 1 Mb in size are reported. Only 231 of the 492 animals demonstrated CNVRs. Two hundred and eighty nine genes were observed within CNVRs identified. Of these 149, 28, 44, 2 and 14 genes were unique to sub-populations A, B, C, D and E respectively. Gene ontology analyses demonstrated a number of pathways to be represented by respective genes, including immune response, response to abiotic stress and biological regulation processess. Conclusions: CNVs may explain part of the phenotypic diversity and the enhanced adaptation evident in Nguni cattle. Genes involved in a number of cellular components, biological processes and molecular functions are reported within CNVRs identified. The significance of such CNVRs and the possible effect thereof needs to be ascertained and may hold interesting insight into the functional and adaptive consequence of CNVs in cattle.

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