RNA-Seq reveals seven promising candidate genes affecting the proportion of thick egg albumen in layer-type chickens

Sci Rep. 2017 Dec 22;7(1):18083. doi: 10.1038/s41598-017-18389-5.


Eggs with a much higher proportion of thick albumen are preferred in the layer industry, as they are favoured by consumers. However, the genetic factors affecting the thick egg albumen trait have not been elucidated. Using RNA sequencing, we explored the magnum transcriptome in 9 Rhode Island white layers: four layers with phenotypes of extremely high ratios of thick to thin albumen (high thick albumen, HTA) and five with extremely low ratios (low thick albumen, LTA). A total of 220 genes were differentially expressed, among which 150 genes were up-regulated and 70 were down-regulated in the HTA group compared with the LTA group. Gene Ontology (GO) analysis revealed that the up-regulated genes in HTA were mainly involved in a wide range of regulatory functions. In addition, a large number of these genes were related to glycosphingolipid biosynthesis, focal adhesion, ECM-receptor interactions and cytokine-cytokine receptor interactions. Based on functional analysis, ST3GAL4, FUT4, ITGA2, SDC3, PRLR, CDH4 and GALNT9 were identified as promising candidate genes for thick albumen synthesis and metabolism during egg formation. These results provide new insights into the molecular mechanisms of egg albumen traits and may contribute to future breeding strategies that optimise the proportion of thick egg albumen.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Albumins / genetics*
  • Albumins / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Breeding*
  • Chickens / genetics*
  • Chickens / metabolism
  • Egg White*
  • Eggs*
  • Female
  • RNA*
  • Sequence Analysis, RNA
  • Transcriptome


  • Albumins
  • RNA