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Transcriptomic analysis of ovarian follicles uncovers the crucial genes relevant to follicle selection and preovulatory hierarchy in hens

By: Xue Sun, Hongyan Zhu, Changyan Zhang, Jean Philippe Harold Wensesso Ilboudo, Jinghua Zhao, Chang Ma, Chunchi Yan, Simushi Liswaniso, Ning Qin, Rifu Xu

Chicken ovarian follicle development undergoes follicle recruitment, prehierarchy, follicle selection, preovulatory/hierarchy, and finally ovulation. The follicle selection and preovulatory hierarchy play a vital role in egg production of hens. However, underlying the mechanism of the key genes involved in these developmental events remains largely unknown. Herein, to explore the promising genes potentially involved in follicle selection and hierarchical development of hen ovary, a comparative transcriptome analysis of the ovarian follicles before and after selection was performed by using Jilin Black (JB) chicken, an indigenous Chinese breed with a low egg-laying rate and strong broodiness, and which was substantiated by using Lohmann Brown (LB) layer, a commercial egg-laying breed, being characterized by a high rate of egg production. As a result, a total of nine critical differentially expressed genes (DEGs) that co-expressed in the ovarian follicles before selection compared with follicles at selection stage (ASF), and 17 DEGs in the ASF follicles compared with hierarchical follicles that developed shortly after the time of follicle selection were identified in the JB hens as well as in the LB layers, respectively. Moreover, the exact roles of two representative candidates ROBO2 and PRKG2 of the DEGs were further verified in regulation of the follicular granulosa cell proliferation and differentiation which are the major characteristics of follicle selection. And 10 signaling pathways that implicated in follicle selection and hierarchy were also enriched. The objectives aim to provide molecular evidence for underlying the regulatory mechanism of follicle development and egg production in chicken.

Read the full article in the Journal of Animal Science.