TGF-β1 is a ligand of the TGF-β superfamily and an important cytokine that regulates ovarian functions including follicular development, steroid production, ovulation, luteinization, and female fertility. However, little is known about the regulation of TGF-β1 expression in ovary. Here, we identified that TGF-β1 is a functional target of miR-130a in porcine ovarian granulosa cells (GCs). The 3′-UTR sequence of TGF-β1 gene (1137 bp in length) in Large White (LW) pig was isolated, and multiple RNA regulatory elements (RREs), including several binding motifs of different miRNAs, were identified in this region. Luciferase activity assay showed that miR-130a dramatically suppresses the 3′-UTR luciferase activity of TGF-β1 gene, and further inhibits the expression of TGF-β1 in porcine GCs. FACS revealed that miR-130a acts as a pro-apoptotic factor and promotes GC apoptosis by inhibiting TGF-β1. Two novel linked mutations (-573G > A and -540T  >  C) were identified in the promoter region of ssc-miR-130a, but their polymorphisms are not associated with sow reproductive traits. Importantly, combined genotype analysis with a known mutation (c.1583 A  >  G) in the 3′-UTR of porcine TGF-β1 gene showed a significant association with reproductive performance in LW sow population. Overall, our findings defined a novel regulatory axis, miR-130a/TGF-β1 axis, which is involved in regulating sow fertility.
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