U.S. Department of Agriculture: Agricultural Research Service, Lincoln, Nebraska


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Published in Molecular Reproduction and Development (2003) 65: 366-372.


The porcine amphiregulin gene was previously reported to be within the quantitative trait locus (QTL) for uterine capacity on chromosome 8. Because amphiregulin stimulates cell proliferation, the amphiregulin gene might be responsible for this QTL. The objectives of this study were to clone amphiregulin cDNA and compare endometrial expression of its mRNA in pregnant Meishan (M) and White composite (WC) pigs. We obtained two amphiregulin cDNAs, one with 1,221 bp and another with 1,109 bp. The 112 bp difference corresponded to exon 5 of the human amphiregulin gene, which codes for the cytoplasmic domain. Endometrial mRNA expression of amphiregulin was significantly lower in M pigs than in WC pigs during early pregnancy (day 15–40 of gestation). Amphiregulin mRNA expression in the endometrium of both M and WC pigs increased (P < 0.01) from days 15 to 20, decreased (P < 0.01) from days 20 to 30, and did not change between days 30 and 40. This may result in reduced amphiregulin protein production leading to the slower development of M conceptuses, contributing to greater uterine capacity and litter size in prolific Chinese M pigs. Porcine genomic sequences isolated from a bacterial artificial chromosome genomic library contained exon 5, suggesting that the deletion of exon 5 in the mRNA may be due to differential splicing. The amphiregulin gene consisted of six exons and five introns spanning 10.3 kb.