State Key Laboratory of Pig Genetic Improvement and Production Technology, Jiangxi Agricultural University, Nanchang, 330045, China.
* These authors contributed equally to this work.
Peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor beta/delta (PPARD) is an important determinant of multiple biological processes. Our previous studies identified a missense mutation in the PPARD gene that significantly reduces its transcription activity, and consequently causes enlarged external ears in pigs. However, the mechanisms underlying the causality has remained largely unknown. Here, we show that PPARD retards the development of auricular cartilage by accelerating the apoptosis of cartilage stem/progenitor cells (CSPCs), the terminal differentiation of cartilage cells and the degradation of cartilage extracellular matrix in the auricle. At the transcription level, PPARD upregulates a set of genes that are associated with CSPCs apoptosis and chondrogenic differentiation, chondroblast differentiation and extracellular matrix degradation. ChIP-seq identified direct target genes of PPARD, including a well-documented gene for cartilage development: PPARG. We further show that compared to wild-type PPARD, the G32E mutant up-regulates the expression of PPARG and subsequently leads to the downregulation of critical genes that inhibit cartilage growth. These findings allow us to conclude that PPARD is an inhibitor of auricular cartilage growth in pigs. The causative mutation (G32E) in the PPARD gene attenuates the PPARD-mediated retardation of cartilage growth in the auricle, contributing to enlarged ears in pigs. The findings advance our understanding of the mechanisms underlying auricular development in mammals, and shed insight into the studies of innate pinna disorders and cartilage regeneration medicine in humans.
Keywords: PPARD, ear size, cartilage growth, chondrogenesis, matrix degeneration.