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Open Access Review

The search for the gene mutations underlying enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli F4ab/ac susceptibility in pigs: a review

Martine Schroyen, Anneleen Stinckens, Roderick Verhelst, Theo Niewold and Nadine Buys*

Author Affiliations

Department Biosystems, KU Leuven, Kasteelpark Arenberg 30, 3001, Heverlee, Belgium

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Veterinary Research 2012, 43:70  doi:10.1186/1297-9716-43-70

Published: 12 October 2012

Abstract

Diarrhoea due to enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli with fimbriae F4 (ETEC-F4) is an important problem in neonatal and just weaned piglets and hence for the pig farming industry. There is substantial evidence for a genetic basis for susceptibility to ETEC-F4 since not all piglets suffer from diarrhoea after an ETEC-F4 infection. It is assumed that the wild boar was originally ETEC-F4 resistant and that susceptibility towards ETEC arose after domestication. There are different phenotypes in the pig determined by which of the three existing F4 variants (F4ab, F4ac or F4ad) they are susceptible or resistant for. This suggests that several F4 receptors exist, expressed individually or in combination with each other on the brush border of the piglet’s small intestine. As such, the mucin-type glycoproteins (IMTGP) are described as F4ab/ac receptors, while the intestinal neutral glycospingolipid (IGLad) is proposed as an F4ad receptor. GP74 is a putative F4ab receptor. However, the specific genes that encode for the susceptibility are not yet known. In the past decades, linkage analyses revealed that the loci encoding for the receptor(s) for the two most frequent variants F4ab and F4ac were mapped to the 13th chromosome of the pig (Sus scrofa 13, SSC13). After fine mapping, the region of interest was mapped between two microsatellite markers, Sw207 and S0075, and interesting candidate genes surfaced. Numerous SNP analyses and a few expression studies on the three MUC-genes (MUC4, MUC13 and MUC20) and the transferrin receptor gene (TFRC) as well as on some other positional candidate genes have been performed in order to find the causative mutation for the ETEC-F4ab/ac receptor(s). However, until today, the exact mutation causing susceptibility to ETEC-F4 remains unknown.