Unveiling the Ovarian Cell Characteristics and Molecular Mechanism of Prolificacy in Goats via Single-Nucleus Transcriptomics Data Analysis

Curr Issues Mol Biol. 2024 Mar 11;46(3):2301-2319. doi: 10.3390/cimb46030147.


Increases in litter size, which are influenced by ovulation, are responsible for between 74% and 96% of the economic value of genetic progress, which influences selection. For the selection and breeding of highly prolific goats, genetic mechanisms underlying variations in litter size should be elucidated. Here, we used single-nucleus RNA sequencing to analyze 44,605 single nuclei from the ovaries of polytocous and monotocous goats during the follicular phase. Utilizing known reference marker genes, we identified 10 ovarian cell types characterized by distinct gene expression profiles, transcription factor networks, and reciprocal interaction signatures. An in-depth analysis of the granulosa cells revealed three subtypes exhibiting distinct gene expression patterns and dynamic regulatory mechanisms. Further investigation of cell-type-specific prolificacy-associated transcriptional changes elucidated that "downregulation of apoptosis", "increased anabolism", and "upstream responsiveness to hormonal stimulation" are associated with prolificacy. This study provides a comprehensive understanding of the cell-type-specific mechanisms and regulatory networks in the goat ovary, providing insights into the molecular mechanisms underlying goat prolificacy. These findings establish a vital foundation for furthering understanding of the molecular mechanisms governing folliculogenesis and for improving the litter size in goats via molecular design breeding.

Keywords: cell-type; goat; granulosa cells; ovary; prolificacy; snRNA-seq.