Transcriptome analysis of the uterus of hens laying eggs differing in cuticle deposition

Sandra Poyatos Pertinez, Pete Wilson, Wiebke Icken, David Cavero, Maureen M. Bain, Anita C. Jones , Ian Dunn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Avian eggs have a proteinaceous cuticle. The quantity of cuticle varies and the deposition of a good cuticle in the uterus (Shell-gland) prevents transmission of bacteria to the egg contents.
To understand cuticle deposition, uterus transcriptomes were compared between hens with i) naturally good and poor cuticle and, ii) where manipulation of the hypothalamopituitary-gonadal-oviduct axis produced eggs with or without cuticle. The highest expressed genes encoded eggshell matrix and cuticle proteins, e.g. MEPE (OC-116), BPIFB3 (OVX-36), RARRES1 (OVX-32), WAP (OVX-25), and genes for mitochondrial oxidative phosphorylation, active transport and energy metabolism. Expression of a number of these genes differed between hens laying eggs with or without cuticle. There was also a high expression of clock genes. PER2, CRY2, CRY1, CLOCK and BMAL1 were differentially expressed when cuticle deposition was prevented, and they also changed throughout the egg formation cycle. This suggests an endogenous clock in the uterus may be a component of cuticle deposition control. Cuticle proteins are glycosylated and glycosaminoglycan binding genes had a lower expression when
cuticle proteins were deposited on the egg. The immediate early genes, JUN and FOS , were expressed less when the cuticle had not been deposited and changed over the egg formation cycle, suggesting they are important in oviposition and cuticle deposition. The uterus transcriptome of hens with good and poor cuticle deposition did not differ.
We have gained insights into the factors that can affect the production of the cuticle especially clock genes and immediate early genes. We have demonstrated that these genes change their expression over the period of eggshell formation supporting their importance. The lack of differences in expression between the uterus of hens laying eggs with the best and worse cuticle suggest the genetic basis of the trait may lie outside the oviduct
Original languageEnglish
JournalBMC Genomics
Early online date27 Jul 2020
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 27 Jul 2020

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • Uterus
  • Egg
  • Oviduct
  • Cuticle
  • Oviposition
  • Transcriptome
  • Next generation sequencing
  • Chicken


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