RNA Sequencing of the Pituitary Gland and Association Analyses Reveal PRKG2 as a Candidate Gene for Growth and Carcass Traits in Chinese Ningdu Yellow Chickens

Front Vet Sci. 2022 Jun 16;9:892024. doi: 10.3389/fvets.2022.892024. eCollection 2022.

Abstract

Growth and carcass traits are of great economic importance to the chicken industry. The candidate genes and mutations associated with growth and carcass traits can be utilized to improve chicken growth. Therefore, the identification of these genes and mutations is greatly importance. In this study, a total of 17 traits related to growth and carcass were measured in 399 Chinese Ningdu yellow chickens. RNA sequencing (RNA-seq) was performed to detect candidate genes using 12 pituitary gland samples (six per group), which exhibited extreme growth and carcass phenotypes: either a high live weight and carcass weight (H group) or a low live weight and carcass weight (L group). A differential expression analysis, utilizing RNA-seq, between the H and L groups identified 428 differentially expressed genes (DEGs), including 110 up-regulated genes and 318 down-regulated genes. Gene ontology (GO) and Kyoto Encyclopedia of Genes and Genomes (KEGG) enrichment analyses of the identified genes showed a significant enrichment of 158 GO terms and two KEGG pathways, including response to stimulus and neuroactive ligand-receptor interaction, respectively. Furthermore, RNA-seq data, qRT-PCR, and quantitative trait transcript (QTT) analysis results suggest that the PRKG2 gene is an important candidate gene for growth and carcass traits of Chinese Ningdu yellow chickens. More specifically, association analyses of a single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) in PRKG2 and growth and carcass traits showed that the SNP rs16400745 was significantly associated with 12 growth and carcass traits (P < 0.05), such as carcass weight (P = 9.68E-06), eviscerated weight (P = 3.04E-05), and semi-eviscerated weight (P = 2.14E-04). Collectively, these results provide novel insights into the genetic basis of growth in Chinese Ningdu yellow chickens and the SNP rs16400745 reported here could be incorporated into the selection programs involving this breed.

Keywords: Ningdu yellow chickens; PRKG2 gene; RNA-seq; candidate gene; growth and carcass traits.