Avian influenza virus (AIV) is a type A virus of the family Orthomyxoviridae. Avian influenza virus infection can cause significant economic losses to the poultry industry, and raises a great public health threat due to potential host jump from animals to humans. To develop more effective intervention strategies to prevent and control AIV infection in poultry, it is essential to elucidate molecular mechanisms of host response to AIV infection in chickens. The objective of this study was to identify genes and signal pathways associated with resistance to AIV infection in 2 genetically distinct highly inbred chicken lines (Fayoumi, relatively resistant to AIV infection, and Leghorn, susceptible to AIV infection). Three-week-old chickens were inoculated with 10(7) EID50 of low pathogenic H5N3 AIV, and lungs and trachea were harvested 4 d postinoculation. Four cDNA libraries (1 library each for infected and noninfected Leghorn, and infected and noninfected Fayoumi) were prepared from the lung samples and sequenced by Illumina Genome Analyzer II, which yielded a total of 116 million, 75-bp single-end reads. Gene expression levels of all annotated chicken genes were analyzed using CLC Genomics Workbench. DESeq was used to identify differentially expressed transcripts between infected and noninfected birds and between genetic lines (false discovery rate < 0.05 and fold-change > 2). Of the expressed transcripts in a total of 17,108 annotated chicken genes in Ensembl database, 82.44 and 81.40% were identified in Leghorn and Fayoumi birds, respectively. The bioinformatics analysis suggests that the hemoglobin family genes, the functional involvements for oxygen transportation and circulation, and cell adhesion molecule signaling pathway play significant roles in disease resistance to AIV infection in chickens. Further investigation of the roles of these candidate genes and signaling pathways in the regulation of host-AIV interaction can lead new directions for the development of antiviral drugs or vaccines in poultry.
Keywords: RNA-seq; avian influenza virus; chicken; disease resistance; inbred line.