Transcriptomic analysis of caecal tissue in inbred chicken lines that exhibit heritable differences in resistance to Campylobacter jejuni

Kay Russell, Jacqueline Smith, Abi Bremner, Cosmin Chintoan-Uta, Lonneke Vervelde, Androniki Psifidi, Mark Stevens

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Background: Campylobacter jejuni is the leading cause of bacterial gastroenteritis in humans and the handling or consumption of contaminated poultry meat is a key source of infection. Selective breeding of poultry that exhibit elevated resistance to Campylobacter is an attractive control strategy. Here we studied the global transcriptional response of inbred chicken lines that differ in resistance to C. jejuni colonisation at a key site of bacterial persistence. Results: Three-week-old chickens of line 61 and N were inoculated orally with C. jejuni strain M1 and caecal contents and tonsils were sampled at 1 and 5 days post-infection. Caecal colonisation was significantly lower in line compared to line N at 1 day post-infection, but not 5 days post-infection. RNA-Seq analysis of caecal tonsils of both lines revealed a limited response to C. jejuni infection compared to age-matched uninfected controls. In line N at days 1 and 5 post-infection, just 8 and 3 differentially expressed genes (DEGs) were detected (fold-change >2 and false-discovery rate of <0.05) relative to uninfected controls, respectively. In the relatively resistant line 61, a broader response to C. jejuni was observed, with 69 DEGs relating to immune regulation, cell signalling and metabolism at 1 day post-infection. However, by day 5 post-infection, no DEGs were detected. By far, the greatest number of DEGs were between uninfected birds of the two lines implying that differential resistance to C. jejuni is intrinsic. Of these genes, several Major Histocompatibility Complex class I-related genes (MHCIA1, MHCBL2 and MHCIY) and antimicrobial peptides (MUC2, AvBD10 and GZMA) were expressed to a greater extent in line N. Two genes within quantitative trait loci associated with C. jejuni colonisation were also more highly expressed in line N (ASIC4 and 46 BZFP2). Quantitative reverse-transcriptase PCR analysis of a subset of transcripts confirmed the RNA-Seq results. Conclusions: Our data indicate a limited transcriptional response in the caecal tonsils of inbred chickens to intestinal colonisation by Campylobacter but identify a large number of differentially transcribed genes between lines 61 and N that may underlie variation in 51 heritable resistance to C. jejuni.
Original languageEnglish
JournalBMC Genomics
Publication statusPublished - 4 Jun 2021

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • Campylobacter
  • chicken
  • gene expression
  • inbred
  • resistance
  • RNA-Seq
  • transcriptome


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