Transcriptome analysis of comb and testis from Rose-comb Silky chicken (R1/R1) and Beijing Fatty wild type chicken (r/r)

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Rose-comb was one of the chicken comb-variants first used by Bateson and Punnet in 1902 to demonstrate Mendelian inheritance in animals. Rose-comb is a monogenic trait that has been widely described in chickens. It is caused by a large structural rearrangement that leads to mis-expression of transcription factor MNR2 on chromosome 7. Rose-comb has pleiotropic effects in homozygous roosters, which is associated with poor sperm mobility. It was postulated that this is caused by the disruption of the CCDC108 gene located at the distal inversion breakpoint. In this study, we did the transcriptional profiling of combs and testes from Rose-comb Silky (RS) (R1/R1) and Beijing Fatty (BF) wild type chickens (r/r) using RNA-seq. We obtained 68,694,797 unique mapped reads and over 80% of the chicken genes were covered for each sample. In combs, we found that differentially expressed genes (DEGs) were significantly enriched in the retinol metabolism (RPE65, CYP26A1, and CYP26C1) and hedgehog-signaling pathway (PTCH1, GLI1, and HHIP), while genes related to cell differentiation and morphogenesis were down-regulated in R1/R1 chickens, suggesting that the transient expression of MNR2 might affect the expression of these genes and influence the development of comb tissue. For testes, DEGs were significantly enriched in the GO terms of binding activates and mitochondrial oxidation-reduction reactions. Our results suggested that the CCDC108 might be functionally related with mitochondrial oxidation-reduction reactions and caused subfertility of roosters. Compared with the genome average, the degree of expression variations within the inversion region did not show significant differences. However, DEGs near the breakpoints showed greater expression variance. Our results demonstrated that the large-scale rearrangements affected the gene expression only around the breakpoint in this case.

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