Pituitary transcriptome profile from laying period to incubation period of Changshun green-shell laying hens

BMC Genomics. 2024 Mar 25;25(1):309. doi: 10.1186/s12864-024-10233-1.


Background: Incubation behaviour, an instinct for natural breeding in poultry, is strictly controlled by the central nervous system and multiple neuroendocrine hormones and neurotransmitters, and is closely associated with the cessation of egg laying. Therefore, it is essential for the commercial poultry industry to clarify the molecular regulation mechanism of incubation behaviour. Here, we used high-throughput sequencing technology to examine the pituitary transcriptome of Changshun green-shell laying hen, a local breed from Guizhou province, China, with strong broodiness, in two reproductive stages, including egg-laying phase (LP) and incubation phase (BP). We also analyze the differences in gene expression during the transition from egg-laying to incubation, and identify critical pathways and candidate genes involved in controlling the incubation behaviour in the pituitary.

Results: In this study, we demonstrated that a total of 2089 differently expressed genes (DEGs) were identified in the pituitary, including 842 up-regulated and 1247 down-regulated genes. Kyoto Encyclopedia of Genes and Genomes (KEGG) analysis revealed that steroid biosynthesis pathway and neuroactive ligand-receptor interaction were significantly enriched based on DEGs commonly identified in pituitary. Further analysis revealed that SRC, ITGB4, ITGB3, PIK3R3 and DRD2 may play crucial roles in the regulation of incubation behaviour.

Conclusions: We identified 2089 DEGs and the key signaling pathways which may be closely correlated with incubation in Changshun green-shell laying hens, and clarified the molecular regulation mechanism of incubation behaviour. Our results indicate the complexity and variety of differences in reproductive behaviour of different chicken breeds.

Keywords: Changshun green-shell laying hens; Incubation period; Laying period; Pituitary; Transcriptome analysis.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Chickens* / metabolism
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Profiling
  • Hormones / metabolism
  • Pituitary Gland / metabolism
  • Transcriptome*


  • Hormones