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


Date of this Version


Document Type



Published in Animal Genetics (2005) 36, 97–103. DOI:10.1111/j.1365-2052.2005.01233.


A single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP; C vs. T) that creates an extra GATA-1 site (T allele) in intron 4 of the swine erythropoietin receptor (EPOR) gene was discovered and a genotyping assay for this SNP was developed. A total of 402 gilts from lines selected either at random (control), for ovulation rate (OR) or for uterine capacity (UC) for 11 generations were unilaterally hysterectomized-ovariectomized (UHO) at 160 days of age, mated at approximately 250 days of age and slaughtered at 105 days of pregnancy. Blood samples and spleens were collected from each foetus and the numbers of corpora lutea (CL) and live foetuses, the weights of each foetus and placenta, and each foetal haematocrit were recorded. In addition, intact gilts from the OR line or from a Yorkshire, Landrace, Duroc, crossbred line (BX) were mated and farrowed. At farrowing, the numbers of fully formed and live piglets were recorded for each litter. Genomic DNA was isolated for both the UHO and intact gilts, from foetuses from the UHO gilts that were heterozygous for the EPOR SNP, and from the boars from the BX line and were then used to determine EPOR SNP genotypes. Only CC and CT gilts were observed in the control, OR and UC selected lines. Presence of the EPOR T allele was associated (P < 0.05) with increased UC in these gilts. The number of heterozygous and homozygous foetuses did not differ within UHO litters, or did EPOR genotype influence foetal haematocrit. In intact gilts from the OR line, litter size was significantly associated (P < 0.05) with EPOR SNP genotype. Finally, results from intact gilts of the BX line, in which both the gilt and the boar genotypes were known, allowed an analysis to determine the effect of the gilt and/or the foetal genotype on litter size. This analysis indicated that the predicted foetal genotype (with gilt genotype as covariate) was associated with litter size (an increase of 2.6 ± 1.0 piglets born alive predicted for homozygous T litters compared with homozygous C litters, P < 0.01) whereas the effect of the gilt genotype (adjusted for foetal genotype) on litter size was not significant. These results indicate that the EPOR SNP is associated with UC and litter size in two distinct populations and could be useful in increasing litter size in swine that are not limited in OR.