A sow and her piglets. Click the image for
more information about it.
Pig Gene Database Supports Human Nutrition, Immunity
By Jim Core
August 26, 2005
A searchable, online database that
allows users to compare information on 2,600 annotated swine genes and proteins
related to nutrition and immunity was launched today by Agricultural Research
The new resource is called the "Porcine Immunology and Nutrition (PIN)
Database" and is available at:
Pigs and humans share anatomical and physiological features that are useful
for modeling the effects of nutrition on human immune function and response to
disease. In some cases, studies that are difficult or impossible to do in
humans can be explored in pigs.
But molecular and genomic-based pig data cannot be compared with
sophisticated human and rodent databases because existing pig databases are
poorly annotated for immune- and nutrition-related genes. By providing
information on pig genes and proteins, researchers can compare gene expression
patterns in pigs with the more extensive information provided in human and
The database was produced by nutritionists at the ARS
(Md.) Human Nutrition Research Center and immunologists in the ARS
and Natural Resources Institute in Beltsville, headed by research
Dawson. ARS is the U.S. Department of
Agriculture's chief scientific research agency.
Requirements and Functions Laboratory, Dawson and
Urban, a microbiologist and the unit's research leader, develop sensitive
molecular tests for pig cytokine genes and receptors associated with nutrition
and immunity to food allergens that threaten human health.
The database is a unique porcine database because it links gene expression
to gene function and identification of related gene pathways, and its
information can be coordinated with other databases related to the functional
genetics of humans and mice. The database contains information on 385 validated
genetic fingerprinting tools called real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR)
assays, as well as 440 other real-time PCR assays that are currently undergoing
validation. It also contains a comprehensive catalog of anti-porcine antibodies
with links to referenced literature and vendors.
These assays are currently used by more than a dozen laboratories worldwide.
The release of the database will greatly facilitate global use of swine as an
important biomedical research tool and will solidify ARS' role as a leader in
studies of basic swine nutritional immunity.