Interpretive Summary: Exploring differentially expressed genes in hypothalamic, pars tuberalis and pineal gland transcriptomes in different sexual behavior phenotypes in rams using RNA-Seq
By: Kenza Lakhssassi, María Pilar Sarto, Belén Marín, Belén Lahoz, José Folch, José Luis Alabart, Malena Serrano, Jorge Hugo Calvo
Male sexual behavior is a key factor in reproduction, especially in seasonal breeders such as sheep. The identification of differentially expressed genes (DEGs) in brain regions involved in male reproduction and sexual behavior between rams with different sexual activity by RNA high-throughput sequencing can provide useful information to the sheep meat industry. This work aimed to determine the possible molecular mechanisms underlying the sexual behavior of Rasa Aragonesa rams by investigating transcriptional changes in the hypothalamus (HT), pars tuberalis (PT) and pineal gland (PG) between active (A) and nonactive (NA) rams. Comparative analysis revealed 103 and 12 DEGs between the A vs. NA comparison in the HT and the PG, respectively, but no DEGs were found in the PT. Gene ontology (GO) enrichment analysis of DEGs in HT samples revealed significant pathways, associated mainly with neuroactive ligand-receptor interactions, and the GnRH and cAMP signaling pathways. Furthermore, gene set enrichment analysis (GSEA) detected many overrepresented pathways related to sexual behavior via an interaction network within the hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadal axis. These data will be helpful for further investigations to look for mutations or functional single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) that may be used for genetic assisted selection to improve sexual behavior in sheep.
Read the full article in the Journal of Animal Science.