Breed susceptibility to enterotoxigenic and enteroaggragative Escherichia coli strains in South African pigs.
Escherichia coli diarrhoea is the most important source of mortality in piglets. The most frequently isolated strain in enterotoxigenic E. coli diarrhoea is F4ab/ac. Recent studies in South Africa reported non-fimbrial strains such as PAA and EAST-1 to be prevalent. The objective of the study was to determine whether there are breed differences among pigs with respect to E. coli adhesion phenotypes and correlate them to polymorphisms at selected candidate genes in the South African population. A total of 225 pigs aged 3-12 weeks of the imported (Large White, Landrace and Duroc), local and crossbreds, were sampled from the Eastern Cape and Limpopo provinces of South Africa and genotyped for PCR-RFLP polymorphisms at four candidate genes associated with E. coli F4ab/ac resistance/susceptibility. These genes were Mucin 4 (MUC4), Mucin 13, (MUC13), Mucin 20 (MUC20) and Transferrin Receptor (TFRC). The TFRC and MUC13 genes were less polymorphic, the C allele was close to fixation and the homozygous CC genotype was the most frequent in all three pig populations. There was a significant difference (P <0.05) in allelic and genotypic distribution amongst breeds for the TFRC locus. The g.8227G>C polymorphism in MUC4 segregated in all three breeds and the marker was moderately polymorphic. There was a significant difference (P <0.05) in genotypic distribution amongst breeds for MUC4.The g.191C>T polymorphism in MUC20 segregated in the local and crossbred pigs and was close to fixation in the imported pigs. There was a significant difference (P <0.05) in allelic and genotypic distribution amongst breeds for MUC20, which was moderately polymorphic. There was a reduction in heterozygosity in both the TFRC and MUC13 loci, although MUC4 and MUC20 genes had higher heterozygosity levels. The MUC4 gene had a negative FIS value, indicating outbreeding at this locus. The MUC20, MUC13 and TFRC genes had a positive FIS value, indicating inbreeding at these loci. Overall, the studied population was outbred. Imported pigs in TFRC and MUC20 deviated from Hardy-Weinberg equilibrium (HWE). All breeds were in HWE at the MUC4 and MUC13 genes. There was no linkage disequilibrium observed amongst the analysed loci. iv A total of 109 piglets of three breeds (Large White, indigenous and crossbred) aged 3-5 weeks, were investigated for the susceptibility to E. coli F4, PAA strains and EAST-1 toxin. Adhesion tests were conducted on pig intestinal cells, which were viewed under a phase contrast microscope. Three phenotypes were identified as, adhesive, weakly adhesive and non-adhesive. There was a significant association (P <0.05) between breed and level of adherence of the F4 and PAA strains. Highest frequencies of adhesion phenotypes were observed in the indigenous pigs for both F4 and PAA E. coli strains. Large White pigs had the lowest frequency of non-adhesion in F4 and PAA E. coli strains. The F4 strain had a higher (P <0.05) level of adherence compared to PAA and EAST-1 in Large White pigs. Age of pigs had a significant effect on the level of E. coli adherence in indigenous and crossbred pigs (P <0.05). Adhesion of F4 and EAST-1 was higher in weaned indigenous and crossbred pigs, respectively, than in suckling piglets. There was no significant difference between F4 adhesion and the genotypes at all four candidate genes genotypes. The study showed that both imported and local pig populations carry receptors and are susceptible to F4, PAA and EAST-1 E. coli infections. Indigenous pigs were less susceptible than Large White to E. coli infection. Although polymorphic and segregating in the populations, the MUC4 g.8227G>C and MUC20 g.191C>T mutations were not associated with the adhesion phenotypes and cannot be used in the selection of susceptible animals.