Epigenetic changes are important for understanding complex trait variation and inheritance in pigs that are also a valuable biomedical model for human health research. Testis is the main organ for reproduction and boar taint in pigs; however, there have been no studies to-date on adult pig testis epigenome. The main objective of this study was to establish a genome-wide DNA methylation map of pig testis that would help identify candidate epigenetic biomarkers and methylated genes for complex traits such as male reproduction, fertility or boar taint. Reduced Representation Bisulfite Sequencing (RRBS) was used to study methylation levels of cytosine in nine pig testis samples. The results showed that genome-wide methylation status of nine samples overlapped greatly and their variation among pigs were low. The methylation levels of promoter, exon, intron, cytosine and guanine dinucleotide (CpG) islands and CpG island shores regions were 0.15, 0.47, 0.55, 0.39, and 0.53, respectively. Cytosines binding to CpG islands showed different methylation levels between exon and intron regions. All methylation levels of CpG islands were lower than CpG island shores in different genic features. The distribution of 12,738 differentially methylated cytosines (DMCs) within CpG islands, CpG island shores and other regions was 36.86, 21.65, and 41.49%, respectively, and was 0.33, 1.71, 5.95, and 92.01% in promoter, exon, intron and intergenic regions, respectively. Methylation levels of DMCs in promoter, exon and intron regions were significantly different between CpG islands and CpG island shores (P < 0.05). A total of 898 genes with 2089 DMCs were enriched in 112 Gene Ontology (GO) terms. Fifteen methylated genes from our study were associated with fertility or boar taint traits. Our analysis revealed the methylation patterns in different genic features and CpG island regions of testis in pigs, and summarized several candidate genes associated with DMCs and the involved GO terms. These findings are helpful to understand the relationship between DNA methylation and genic CpG islands, to provide candidate epigenetic regions or biomarkers for pig production and welfare and for translational epigenomic studies that use pigs as an animal model for human research.
- DNA methylation