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Transcriptional analysis of liver from chickens with fast (meat bird), moderate (F1 layer x meat bird cross) and low (layer bird) growth potential.

Willson, Nicky-Lee; Forder, Rebecca E A; Tearle, Rick; Williams, John L; Hughes, Robert J; Nattrass, Greg S; Hynd, Philip I.
BMC Genomics; 19(1): 309, 2018 May 02.
Inglês | MEDLINE | ID: mdl-29716547


Divergent selection for meat and egg production in poultry has resulted in strains of birds differing widely in traits related to these products. Modern strains of meat birds can reach live weights of 2 kg in 35 d, while layer strains are now capable of producing more than 300 eggs per annum but grow slowly. In this study, RNA-Seq was used to investigate hepatic gene expression between three groups of birds with large differences in growth potential; meat bird, layer strain as well as an F1 layer x meat bird. The objective was to identify differentially expressed (DE) genes between all three strains to elucidate biological factors underpinning variations in growth performance.


RNA-Seq analysis was carried out on total RNA extracted from the liver of meat bird (n = 6), F1 layer x meat bird cross (n = 6) and layer strain (n = 6), males. Differential expression of genes were considered significant at P < 0.05, and a false discovery rate of < 0.05, with any fold change considered. In total, 6278 genes were found to be DE with 5832 DE between meat birds and layers (19%), 2935 DE between meat birds and the cross (9.6%) and 493 DE between the cross and layers (1.6%). Comparisons between the three groups identified 155 significant DE genes. Gene ontology (GO) enrichment and Kyoto Encyclopaedia of Genes and Genomes (KEGG) pathway analysis of the 155 DE genes showed the FoxO signalling pathway was most enriched (P = 0.001), including genes related to cell cycle regulation and insulin signalling. Significant GO terms included 'positive regulation of glucose import' and 'cellular response to oxidative stress', which is also consistent with FoxOs regulation of glucose metabolism. There were high correlations between FoxO pathway genes and bodyweight, as well as genes related to glycolysis and bodyweight.


This study revealed large transcriptome differences between meat and layer birds. There was significant evidence implicating the FoxO signalling pathway (via cell cycle regulation and altered metabolism) as an active driver of growth variations in chicken. Functional analysis of the FoxO genes is required to understand how they regulate growth and egg production.