Comparative analyses of dynamic transcriptome profiles highlight key response genes and dominant isoforms for muscle development and growth in chicken

Zhang Wang, Weihua Tian, Dandan Wang, Yulong Guo, Zhimin Cheng, Yanyan Zhang, Xinyan Li, Yihao Zhi, Donghua Li, Zhuanjian Li, Ruirui Jiang, Guoxi Li, Yadong Tian, Xiangtao Kang, Hong Li, Ian C Dunn, Xiaojun Liu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

BACKGROUND: Modern breeding strategies have resulted in significant differences in muscle mass between indigenous chicken and specialized broiler. However, the molecular regulatory mechanisms that underlie these differences remain elusive. The aim of this study was to identify key genes and regulatory mechanisms underlying differences in breast muscle development between indigenous chicken and specialized broiler.

RESULTS: Two time-series RNA-sequencing profiles of breast muscles were generated from commercial Arbor Acres (AA) broiler (fast-growing) and Chinese indigenous Lushi blue-shelled-egg (LS) chicken (slow-growing) at embryonic days 10, 14, and 18, and post-hatching day 1 and weeks 1, 3, and 5. Principal component analysis of the transcriptome profiles showed that the top four principal components accounted for more than 80% of the total variance in each breed. The developmental axes between the AA and LS chicken overlapped at the embryonic stages but gradually separated at the adult stages. Integrative investigation of differentially-expressed transcripts contained in the top four principal components identified 44 genes that formed a molecular network associated with differences in breast muscle mass between the two breeds. In addition, alternative splicing analysis revealed that genes with multiple isoforms always had one dominant transcript that exhibited a significantly higher expression level than the others. Among the 44 genes, the TNFRSF6B gene, a mediator of signal transduction pathways and cell proliferation, harbored two alternative splicing isoforms, TNFRSF6B-X1 and TNFRSF6B-X2. TNFRSF6B-X1 was the dominant isoform in both breeds before the age of one week. A switching event of the dominant isoform occurred at one week of age, resulting in TNFRSF6B-X2 being the dominant isoform in AA broiler, whereas TNFRSF6B-X1 remained the dominant isoform in LS chicken. Gain-of-function assays demonstrated that both isoforms promoted the proliferation of chicken primary myoblasts, but only TNFRSF6B-X2 augmented the differentiation and intracellular protein content of chicken primary myoblasts.

CONCLUSIONS: For the first time, we identified several key genes and dominant isoforms that may be responsible for differences in muscle mass between slow-growing indigenous chicken and fast-growing commercial broiler. These findings provide new insights into the regulatory mechanisms underlying breast muscle development in chicken.

Original languageEnglish
Article number73
Pages (from-to)1-21
Number of pages21
JournalGenetics Selection Evolution
Issue number1
Early online date23 Oct 2023
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2023

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • Animals
  • Transcriptome
  • Chickens
  • Muscles
  • Protein Isoforms/genetics
  • Growth and Development
  • Muscle Development/genetics


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