Integrated ovarian mRNA and miRNA transcriptome profiling characterizes the genetic basis of prolificacy traits in sheep (Ovis aries).

Citation:
Pokharel, K., J. Peippo, M. Honkatukia, A. Seppälä, J. Rautiainen, N. Ghanem, T. - M. Hamama, M. A. Crowe, M. Andersson, M. - H. Li, et al., "Integrated ovarian mRNA and miRNA transcriptome profiling characterizes the genetic basis of prolificacy traits in sheep (Ovis aries).", BMC genomics, vol. 19, issue 1, pp. 104, 2018 01 29.

Abstract:

BACKGROUND: The highly prolific breeds of domestic sheep (Ovis aries) are globally valuable genetic resources for sheep industry. Genetic, nutritional and other environmental factors affect prolificacy traits in sheep. To improve our knowledge of the sheep prolificacy traits, we conducted mRNA-miRNA integrated profiling of ovarian tissues from two pure breeds with large (Finnsheep) vs. small (Texel) litter sizes and their F1 crosses, half of which were fed a flushing diet.

RESULTS: Among the samples, 16,402 genes (60.6% known ovine genes) were expressed, 79 novel miRNAs were found, and a cluster of miRNAs on chromosome 18 was detected. The majority of the differentially expressed genes between breeds were upregulated in the Texel with low prolificacy, owing to the flushing diet effect, whereas a similar pattern was not detected in the Finnsheep. F1 ewes responded similarly to Finnsheep rather than displaying a performance intermediate between the two pure breeds.

CONCLUSIONS: The identification and characterization of differentially expressed genes and miRNAs in the ovaries of sheep provided insights into genetic and environmental factors affecting prolificacy traits. The three genes (CST6, MEPE and HBB) that were differentially expressed between the group of Finnsheep and Texel ewes kept in normal diet appeared to be candidate genes of prolificacy traits and will require further validation.