Hierarchical phenotypic and epigenetic variation in cloned swine.
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Cloning by somatic cell nuclear transfer can result in the birth of animals with phenotypic and gene expression abnormalities. We compared adult cloned pigs and adult pigs from naturally bred control females using a series of physiological and genetic parameters, including detailed methylation profiles of selected genomic regions. Phenotypic and genetic analyses indicated that there are two classes of traits, one in which the cloned pigs have less variation than controls and another characterized by variation that is equally high in cloned and control pigs. Although cloning creates animals within the normal phenotypic range, it increases the variability associated with some traits. This finding is contrary to the expectation that cloning can be used to reduce the size of groups involved in animal experimentation and to reproduce an animal, including a pet, with a homogenous set of desired traits.