Agriculture provides excellent model systems for understanding how selective pressure, as applied by humans, can affect the genomes of plants and animals. One such system is modern poultry breeding in which intensive genetic selection has been applied for meat production in the domesticated chicken. As a result, modern meat-type chickens (broilers) exhibit enhanced growth, especially of the skeletal muscle, relative to their legacy counterparts. Comparative studies of modern and legacy broiler chickens provide an opportunity to identify genes and pathways affected by this human-directed evolution. This study used RNA-seq to compare the transcriptomes of a modern and a legacy broiler line to identify differentially enriched genes in the breast muscle at days 6 and 21 post-hatch. Among the 15,945 genes analyzed, 10,841 were expressed at greater than 0.1 RPKM. At day 6 post-hatch 189 genes, including several regulators of myogenic growth and development, were differentially enriched between the two lines. The transcriptional profiles between lines at day 21 post-hatch identify 193 genes differentially enriched and still include genes associated with myogenic growth. This study identified differentially enriched genes that regulate myogenic growth and differentiation between the modern and legacy broiler lines. Specifically, differences in the ratios of several positive (IGF1, IGF1R, WFIKKN2) and negative (MSTN, ACE) myogenic growth regulators may help explain the differences underlying the enhanced growth characteristics of the modern broilers.
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/susan_lamont/48/