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author:("Song, liuzhou")
1.  Whole-genome sequencing of eight goat populations for the detection of selection signatures underlying production and adaptive traits 
Scientific Reports  2016;6:38932.
The goat (Capra hircus) is one of the first farm animals that have undergone domestication and extensive natural and artificial selection by adapting to various environments, which in turn has resulted in its high level of phenotypic diversity. Here, we generated medium-coverage (9–13×) sequences from eight domesticated goat breeds, representing morphologically or geographically specific populations, to identify genomic regions representing selection signatures. We discovered ~10 million single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) for each breed. By combining two approaches, ZHp and di values, we identified 22 genomic regions that may have contributed to the phenotypes in coat color patterns, body size, cashmere traits, as well as high altitude adaptation in goat populations. Candidate genes underlying strong selection signatures including coloration (ASIP, KITLG, HTT, GNA11, and OSTM1), body size (TBX15, DGCR8, CDC25A, and RDH16), cashmere traits (LHX2, FGF9, and WNT2), and hypoxia adaptation (CDK2, SOCS2, NOXA1, and ENPEP) were identified. We also identified candidate functional SNPs within selected genes that may be important for each trait. Our results demonstrated the potential of using sequence data in identifying genomic regions that are responsible for agriculturally significant phenotypes in goats, which in turn can be used in the selection of goat breeds for environmental adaptation and domestication.
PMCID: PMC5150979  PMID: 27941843
2.  GO‐FAANG meeting: a Gathering On Functional Annotation of Animal Genomes 
Animal Genetics  2016;47(5):528-533.
The Functional Annotation of Animal Genomes (FAANG) Consortium recently held a Gathering On FAANG (GO‐FAANG) Workshop in Washington, DC on October 7–8, 2015. This consortium is a grass‐roots organization formed to advance the annotation of newly assembled genomes of domesticated and non‐model organisms ( The workshop gathered together from around the world a group of 100+ genome scientists, administrators, representatives of funding agencies and commodity groups to discuss the latest advancements of the consortium, new perspectives, next steps and implementation plans. The workshop was streamed live and recorded, and all talks, along with speaker slide presentations, are available at In this report, we describe the major activities and outcomes of this meeting. We also provide updates on ongoing efforts to implement discussions and decisions taken at GO‐FAANG to guide future FAANG activities. In summary, reference datasets are being established under pilot projects; plans for tissue sets, morphological classification and methods of sample collection for different tissues were organized; and core assays and data and meta‐data analysis standards were established.
PMCID: PMC5082551  PMID: 27453069
data coordination centre (DCC); data sharing; Genomics; metanalysis
3.  A decision analysis model for KEGG pathway analysis 
BMC Bioinformatics  2016;17:407.
The knowledge base-driven pathway analysis is becoming the first choice for many investigators, in that it not only can reduce the complexity of functional analysis by grouping thousands of genes into just several hundred pathways, but also can increase the explanatory power for the experiment by identifying active pathways in different conditions. However, current approaches are designed to analyze a biological system assuming that each pathway is independent of the other pathways.
A decision analysis model is developed in this article that accounts for dependence among pathways in time-course experiments and multiple treatments experiments. This model introduces a decision coefficient—a designed index, to identify the most relevant pathways in a given experiment by taking into account not only the direct determination factor of each Kyoto Encyclopedia of Genes and Genomes (KEGG) pathway itself, but also the indirect determination factors from its related pathways. Meanwhile, the direct and indirect determination factors of each pathway are employed to demonstrate the regulation mechanisms among KEGG pathways, and the sign of decision coefficient can be used to preliminarily estimate the impact direction of each KEGG pathway. The simulation study of decision analysis demonstrated the application of decision analysis model for KEGG pathway analysis.
A microarray dataset from bovine mammary tissue over entire lactation cycle was used to further illustrate our strategy. The results showed that the decision analysis model can provide the promising and more biologically meaningful results. Therefore, the decision analysis model is an initial attempt of optimizing pathway analysis methodology.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12859-016-1285-1) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC5053338  PMID: 27716040
Pathway analysis; Decision coefficient (DC); Coefficient of determination (CD); Bovine mammary
4.  Whole-genome regulation analysis of histone H3 lysin 27 trimethylation in subclinical mastitis cows infected by Staphylococcus aureus 
BMC Genomics  2016;17:565.
S. aureus is one of the major etiological agents causing bovine subclinical mastitis. The regulatory effects of H3K27me3 on gene expression in subclinical S. aureus mastitis cows are unknown. This study aimed to profile genome-wide transcriptional changes regulated by H3K27me3 in bovine lymphocytes applied in subclinical S. aureus mastitis cows and healthy controls.
A total of 61 differentially expressed genes (DEGs) were detected in subclinical S. aureus mastitis cows compared to the healthy controls, of which 25 DEGs are up-regulated and the rest are down-regulated genes in subclinical S.aureus mastitis cows. The up-regulated genes are mainly involved in the Jak-STAT signaling pathway, cytokine-cytokine receptor interaction, and T cell receptor-signaling pathway, while the down-regulated genes are related to metabolism pathways. Combination analysis of histone methylation and gene expression revealed that H3K27 trimethylation levels in silent genes were higher in subclinical S. aureus mastitis cattle than in healthy cows. The key regions of H3K27me3 target genes related to subclinical S. aureus mastitis were the upstream 2 kb regions of the DEGs relative to transcription start site (TSS).
The current study provides a novel insight into the interaction between S. aureus and lymphocytes in lactating cows by histone H3 methylation regulation. The differentially expressed genes in bovine lymphocytes regulated by H3K27me3 on upstream 2 kb regions (IL10, PTX3 and etc.) may relate to S. aureus mastitis susceptibility and could be considered as key candidate genes for anti- S. aureus mastitis study and breeding.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12864-016-2947-0) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4977872  PMID: 27503467
Dairy cattle; H3K27me3 regulation; Subclinical mastitis; Staphylococcus aureus
5.  Diversity and population-genetic properties of copy number variations and multicopy genes in cattle 
The diversity and population genetics of copy number variation (CNV) in domesticated animals are not well understood. In this study, we analysed 75 genomes of major taurine and indicine cattle breeds (including Angus, Brahman, Gir, Holstein, Jersey, Limousin, Nelore, and Romagnola), sequenced to 11-fold coverage to identify 1,853 non-redundant CNV regions. Supported by high validation rates in array comparative genomic hybridization (CGH) and qPCR experiments, these CNV regions accounted for 3.1% (87.5 Mb) of the cattle reference genome, representing a significant increase over previous estimates of the area of the genome that is copy number variable (∼2%). Further population genetics and evolutionary genomics analyses based on these CNVs revealed the population structures of the cattle taurine and indicine breeds and uncovered potential diversely selected CNVs near important functional genes, including AOX1, ASZ1, GAT, GLYAT, and KRTAP9-1. Additionally, 121 CNV gene regions were found to be either breed specific or differentially variable across breeds, such as RICTOR in dairy breeds and PNPLA3 in beef breeds. In contrast, clusters of the PRP and PAG genes were found to be duplicated in all sequenced animals, suggesting that subfunctionalization, neofunctionalization, or overdominance play roles in diversifying those fertility-related genes. These CNV results provide a new glimpse into the diverse selection histories of cattle breeds and a basis for correlating structural variation with complex traits in the future.
PMCID: PMC4909312  PMID: 27085184
cattle genome; population sequencing; copy number variation; taurine; indicine
6.  Integrated metabolomic and transcriptome analyses reveal finishing forage affects metabolic pathways related to beef quality and animal welfare 
Scientific Reports  2016;6:25948.
Beef represents a major dietary component and source of protein in many countries. With an increasing demand for beef, the industry is currently undergoing changes towards naturally produced beef. However, the true differences between the feeding systems, especially the biochemical and nutritional aspects, are still unclear. Using transcriptome and metabolome profiles, we identified biological pathways related to the differences between grass- and grain-fed Angus steers. In the latissimus dorsi muscle, we have recognized 241 differentially expressed genes (FDR < 0.1). The metabolome examinations of muscle and blood revealed 163 and 179 altered compounds in each tissue (P < 0.05), respectively. Accordingly, alterations in glucose metabolism, divergences in free fatty acids and carnitine conjugated lipid levels, and altered β-oxidation have been observed. The anti-inflammatory n3 polyunsaturated fatty acids are enriched in grass finished beef, while higher levels of n6 PUFAs in grain finished animals may promote inflammation and oxidative stress. Furthermore, grass-fed animals produce tender beef with lower total fat and a higher omega3/omega6 ratio than grain-fed ones, which could potentially benefit consumer health. Most importantly, blood cortisol levels strongly indicate that grass-fed animals may experience less stress than the grain-fed individuals. These results will provide deeper insights into the merits and mechanisms of muscle development.
PMCID: PMC4869019  PMID: 27185157
7.  Site-Directed Genome Knockout in Chicken Cell Line and Embryos Can Use CRISPR/Cas Gene Editing Technology 
G3: Genes|Genomes|Genetics  2016;6(6):1787-1792.
The present study established an efficient genome editing approach for the construction of stable transgenic cell lines of the domestic chicken (Gallus gallus domesticus). Our objectives were to facilitate the breeding of high-yield, high-quality chicken strains, and to investigate gene function in chicken stem cells. Three guide RNA (gRNAs) were designed to knockout the C2EIP gene, and knockout efficiency was evaluated in DF-1 chicken fibroblasts and chicken ESCs using the luciferase single-strand annealing (SSA) recombination assay, T7 endonuclease I (T7EI) assay, and TA clone sequencing. In addition, the polyethylenimine-encapsulated Cas9/gRNA plasmid was injected into fresh fertilized eggs. At 4.5 d later, frozen sections of the embryos were prepared, and knockout efficiency was evaluated by the T7EI assay. SSA assay results showed that luciferase activity of the vector expressing gRNA-3 was double that of the control. Results of the T7EI assay and TA clone sequencing indicated that Cas9/gRNA vector-mediated gene knockdown efficiency was approximately 27% in both DF-1 cells and ESCs. The CRISPR/Cas9 vector was also expressed in chicken embryos, resulting in gene knockdown in three of the 20 embryos (gene knockdown efficiency 15%). Taken together, our results indicate that the CRISPR/Cas9 system can mediate stable gene knockdown at the cell and embryo levels in domestic chickens.
PMCID: PMC4889674  PMID: 27172204
CRISPR/Cas; chicken; gene knockout
8.  Population-genetic properties of differentiated copy number variations in cattle 
Scientific Reports  2016;6:23161.
While single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) is typically the variant of choice for population genetics, copy number variation (CNV) which comprises insertion, deletion and duplication of genomic sequence, is an informative type of genetic variation. CNVs have been shown to be both common in mammals and important for understanding the relationship between genotype and phenotype. However, CNV differentiation, selection and its population genetic properties are not well understood across diverse populations. We performed a population genetics survey based on CNVs derived from the BovineHD SNP array data of eight distinct cattle breeds. We generated high resolution results that show geographical patterns of variations and genome-wide admixture proportions within and among breeds. Similar to the previous SNP-based studies, our CNV-based results displayed a strong correlation of population structure and geographical location. By conducting three pairwise comparisons among European taurine, African taurine, and indicine groups, we further identified 78 unique CNV regions that were highly differentiated, some of which might be due to selection. These CNV regions overlapped with genes involved in traits related to parasite resistance, immunity response, body size, fertility, and milk production. Our results characterize CNV diversity among cattle populations and provide a list of lineage-differentiated CNVs.
PMCID: PMC4804293  PMID: 27005566
9.  Genomic Signatures Reveal New Evidences for Selection of Important Traits in Domestic Cattle 
Molecular Biology and Evolution  2014;32(3):711-725.
We investigated diverse genomic selections using high-density single nucleotide polymorphism data of five distinct cattle breeds. Based on allele frequency differences, we detected hundreds of candidate regions under positive selection across Holstein, Angus, Charolais, Brahman, and N'Dama. In addition to well-known genes such as KIT, MC1R, ASIP, GHR, LCORL, NCAPG, WIF1, and ABCA12, we found evidence for a variety of novel and less-known genes under selection in cattle, such as LAP3, SAR1B, LRIG3, FGF5, and NUDCD3. Selective sweeps near LAP3 were then validated by next-generation sequencing. Genome-wide association analysis involving 26,362 Holsteins confirmed that LAP3 and SAR1B were related to milk production traits, suggesting that our candidate regions were likely functional. In addition, haplotype network analyses further revealed distinct selective pressures and evolution patterns across these five cattle breeds. Our results provided a glimpse into diverse genomic selection during cattle domestication, breed formation, and recent genetic improvement. These findings will facilitate genome-assisted breeding to improve animal production and health.
PMCID: PMC4441790  PMID: 25431480
cattle genome; population structure; positive selection; haplotype network
10.  Chicken gga-miR-103-3p Targets CCNE1 and TFDP2 and Inhibits MDCC-MSB1 Cell Migration 
G3: Genes|Genomes|Genetics  2016;6(5):1277-1285.
Marek’s disease (MD) is a highly contagious viral neoplastic disease caused by Marek’s disease virus (MDV), which can lead to huge economic losses in the poultry industry. Recently, microRNAs (miRNAs) have been found in various cancers and tumors. In recent years, 994 mature miRNAs have been identified through deep sequencing in chickens, but only a few miRNAs have been investigated further in terms of their function. Previously, gga-miR-103-3p was found downregulated in MDV-infected samples by using Solexa deep sequencing. In this study, we further verified the expression of gga-miR-103-3p among MDV-infected spleen, MD lymphoma from liver, noninfected spleen, and noninfected liver, by qPCR. The results showed that the expression of gga-miR-103-3p was decreased in MDV-infected tissues, which was consistent with our previous study. Furthermore, two target genes of gga-miR-103-3p, cyclin E1 (CCNE1) and transcription factor Dp-2 (E2F dimerization partner 2) (TFDP2), were predicted and validated by luciferase reporter assay, qPCR, and western blot analysis. The results suggested that CCNE1 and TFDP2 are direct targets of gga-miR-103-3p in chickens. Subsequent cell proliferation and migration assay showed that gga-miR-103-3p suppressed MDCC-MSB1 migration, but did not obviously modulate MDCC-MSB1 cell proliferation. In conclusion, gga-miR-103-3p targets the CCNE1 and TFDP2 genes, and suppresses cell migration, which indicates that it might play an important role in MD tumor transformation.
PMCID: PMC4856079  PMID: 26935418
chicken; Marek’s disease; gga-miR-103-3p; CCNE1; TFDP2; cell migration
12.  Genome-wide identification of copy number variations between two chicken lines that differ in genetic resistance to Marek’s disease 
BMC Genomics  2015;16:843.
Copy number variation (CNV) is a major source of genome polymorphism that directly contributes to phenotypic variation such as resistance to infectious diseases. Lines 63 and 72 are two highly inbred experimental chicken lines that differ greatly in susceptibility to Marek’s disease (MD), and have been used extensively in efforts to identify the genetic and molecular basis for genetic resistance to MD. Using next generation sequencing, we present a genome-wide assessment of CNVs that are potentially associated with genetic resistance to MD.
Three chickens randomly selected from each line were sequenced to an average depth of 20×. Two popular software, CNVnator and Pindel, were used to call genomic CNVs separately. The results were combined to obtain a union set of genomic CNVs in the two chicken lines.
A total of 5,680 CNV regions (CNVRs) were identified after merging the two datasets, of which 1,546 and 1,866 were specific to the MD resistant or susceptible line, respectively. Over half of the line-specific CNVRs were shared by 2 or more chickens, reflecting the reduced diversity in both inbred lines. The CNVRs fixed in the susceptible lines were significantly enriched in genes involved in MAPK signaling pathway. We also found 67 CNVRs overlapping with 62 genes previously shown to be strong candidates of the underlying genes responsible for the susceptibility to MD.
Our findings provide new insights into the genetic architecture of the two chicken lines and additional evidence that MAPK signaling pathway may play an important role in host response to MD virus infection. The rich source of line-specific CNVs is valuable for future disease-related association studies in the two chicken lines.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12864-015-2080-5) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4619206  PMID: 26492869
Copy number variation; Chicken; Susceptibility; Marek’s disease; MAPK signaling pathway; Next generation sequencing
13.  The conservation and signatures of lincRNAs in Marek’s disease of chicken 
Scientific Reports  2015;5:15184.
Long intergenic non-coding RNAs (lincRNAs) associated with a number of cancers and other diseases have been identified in mammals, but they are still formidable to be comprehensively identified and characterized. Marek’s disease (MD) is a T cell lymphoma of chickens induced by Marek’s disease virus (MDV). Here, we used a MD chicken model to develop a precise pipeline for identifying lincRNAs and to determine the roles of lincRNAs in T cell tumorigenesis. More than 1,000 lincRNA loci were identified in chicken bursa. Computational analyses demonstrated that lincRNAs are conserved among different species such as human, mouse and chicken. The putative lincRNAs were found to be associated with a wide range of biological functions including immune responses. Interestingly, we observed distinct lincRNA expression signatures in bursa between MD resistant and susceptible lines of chickens. One of the candidate lincRNAs, termed linc-satb1, was found to play a crucial role in MD immune response by regulating a nearby protein-coding gene SATB1. Thus, our results manifested that lincRNAs may exert considerable influence on MDV-induced T cell tumorigenesis and provide a rich resource for hypothesis-driven functional studies to reveal genetic mechanisms underlying susceptibility to tumorigenesis.
PMCID: PMC4608010  PMID: 26471251
14.  Transcriptomic Profiling of Spleen in Grass-Fed and Grain-Fed Angus Cattle 
PLoS ONE  2015;10(9):e0135670.
The grass-fed cattle obtain nutrients directly from pastures containing limited assimilable energy but abundant amount of fiber; by contrast, grain-fed steers receive a diet that is comprised mainly of grains and serves as an efficient source of high-digestible energy. Besides energy, these two types of diet differ in a large number of nutritional components. Additionally, animals maintained on rich-energy regimen are more likely to develop metabolic disorders and infectious diseases than pasture raised individuals. Thus, we hypothesize that spleen–a relevant immune organ–may function differently under disparate regimes. The objective of this study was to find the differentially expressed genes in the spleen of grass-fed and grain-fed steers, and furtherly explore the potential involved biopathways. Through RNA sequencing (RNA-Seq), we detected 123 differentially expressed genes. Based on these genes, we performed an Ingenuity Pathway Analysis (IPA) and identified 9 significant molecular networks and 13 enriched biological pathways. Two of the pathways, Nur77 signaling in T lymphocytes and calcium-induced T lymphocyte apoptosis which are immune related, contain a pair of genes HLA-DRA and NR4A1 with dramatically altered expression level. Collectively, our results provided valuable insights into understanding the molecular mechanism of spleen under varied feeding regimens.
PMCID: PMC4569079  PMID: 26367387
15.  ∆ DNMT3B4-del Contributes to Aberrant DNA Methylation Patterns in Lung Tumorigenesis 
EBioMedicine  2015;2(10):1340-1350.
Aberrant DNA methylation is a hallmark of cancer but mechanisms contributing to the abnormality remain elusive. We have previously shown that ∆DNMT3B is the predominantly expressed form of DNMT3B. In this study, we found that most of the lung cancer cell lines tested predominantly expressed DNMT3B isoforms without exons 21, 22 or both 21 and 22 (a region corresponding to the enzymatic domain of DNMT3B) termed DNMT3B/∆DNMT3B-del. In normal bronchial epithelial cells, DNMT3B/ΔDNMT3B and DNMT3B/∆DNMT3B-del displayed equal levels of expression. In contrast, in patients with non-small cell lung cancer NSCLC), 111 (93%) of the 119 tumors predominantly expressed DNMT3B/ΔDNMT3B-del, including 47 (39%) tumors with no detectable DNMT3B/∆DNMT3B. Using a transgenic mouse model, we further demonstrated the biological impact of ∆DNMT3B4-del, the ∆DNMT3B-del isoform most abundantly expressed in NSCLC, in global DNA methylation patterns and lung tumorigenesis. Expression of ∆DNMT3B4-del in the mouse lungs resulted in an increased global DNA hypomethylation, focal DNA hypermethylation, epithelial hyperplastia and tumor formation when challenged with a tobacco carcinogen. Our results demonstrate ∆DNMT3B4-del as a critical factor in developing aberrant DNA methylation patterns during lung tumorigenesis and suggest that ∆DNMT3B4-del may be a target for lung cancer prevention.
•DNMT3B/∆DNMT3B-del is the predominantly expressed isoform in a large number of lung cancers.•∆ DNMT3B4-del can cause aberrant DNA methylation patterns similar to tumorigenesis.•∆ DNMT3B4-del facilitates carcinogen-induced lung tumorigenesis in a mouse model.
Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States. Epigenetic alterations, particularly alterations in DNA methylation patterns, play critical roles in lung tumorigenesis. We show that DNMT3B/ΔDNMT3B-del is predominantly expressed in a significant percentage of lung cancers including both cell lines and primary tumors. We demonstrate that ΔDNMT3B4-del is critical in the formation of aberrant DNA methylation patterns in mouse lungs similar to human lung cancers and contributes to neoplasia formation when exposed to carcinogens, supporting ΔDNMT3B4-del as a novel target for lung cancer prevention.
PMCID: PMC4634842  PMID: 26629529
DNMT3B; ΔDNMT3B; ΔDNMT3B-del; DNA methylation; Lung cancer; Mouse model; Tumorigenesis
16.  Correction: Ruminal Transcriptomic Analysis of Grass-Fed and Grain-Fed Angus Beef Cattle 
PLoS ONE  2015;10(7):e0134067.
PMCID: PMC4510587  PMID: 26197431
17.  Methylome Analysis in Chickens Immunized with Infectious Laryngotracheitis Vaccine 
PLoS ONE  2015;10(6):e0100476.
In this study we investigated the methylome of chickens immunized with Infectious laryngotracheitis (ILT) vaccine derived from chicken embryos. Methyl-CpG binding domain protein-enriched genome sequencing (MBD-Seq) method was employed in the detection of the 1,155 differentially methylated regions (DMRs) across the entire genome. After validation, we ascertained the genomic DMRs distribution and annotated them regarding genes, transcription start sites (TSS) and CpG islands. We found that global DNA methylation decreased in vaccinated birds, presenting 704 hypomethylated and 451 hypermethylated DMRs, respectively. Additionally, we performed an enrichment analysis detecting gene networks, in which cancer and RNA post-transcriptional modification appeared in the first place, followed by humoral immune response, immunological disease and inflammatory disease. The top four identified canonical pathways were EIF2 signaling, regulation of EIF4 and p70S6K signaling, axonal guidance signaling and mTOR signaling, providing new insight regarding the mechanisms of ILT etiology. Lastly, the association between DNA methylation and differentially expressed genes was examined, and detected negative correlation in seventeen of the eighteen genes.
PMCID: PMC4481310  PMID: 26107953
18.  Ruminal Transcriptomic Analysis of Grass-Fed and Grain-Fed Angus Beef Cattle 
PLoS ONE  2015;10(6):e0116437.
Beef represents a major diet component and one of the major sources of protein in human. The beef industry in the United States is currently undergoing changes and is facing increased demands especially for natural grass-fed beef. The grass-fed beef obtained their nutrients directly from pastures, which contained limited assimilable energy but abundant amount of fiber. On the contrary, the grain-fed steers received a grain-based regime that served as an efficient source of high-digestible energy. Lately, ruminant animals have been accused to be a substantial contributor for the green house effect. Therefore, the concerns from environmentalism, animal welfare and public health have driven consumers to choose grass-fed beef. Rumen is one of the key workshops to digest forage constituting a critical step to supply enough nutrients for animals’ growth and production. We hypothesize that rumen may function differently in grass- and grain-fed regimes. The objective of this study was to find the differentially expressed genes in the ruminal wall of grass-fed and grain-fed steers, and then explore the potential biopathways. In this study, the RNA Sequencing (RNA-Seq) method was used to measure the gene expression level in the ruminal wall. The total number of reads per sample ranged from 24,697,373 to 36,714,704. The analysis detected 342 differentially expressed genes between ruminal wall samples of animals raised under different regimens. The Fisher’s exact test performed in the Ingenuity Pathway Analysis (IPA) software found 16 significant molecular networks. Additionally, 13 significantly enriched pathways were identified, most of which were related to cell development and biosynthesis. Our analysis demonstrated that most of the pathways enriched with the differentially expressed genes were related to cell development and biosynthesis. Our results provided valuable insights into the molecular mechanisms resulting in the phenotype difference between grass-fed and grain-fed cattle.
PMCID: PMC4475051  PMID: 26090810
19.  Genome-Wide H3K4me3 Analysis in Angus Cattle with Divergent Tenderness 
PLoS ONE  2015;10(6):e0115358.
Tenderness is one of the most important properties of meat quality, which is influenced by genetic and environmental factors. As an intensively studied epigenetic marker, histone methylation, occurring on arginine and lysine residues, has pivotal regulatory functions on gene expression. To examine whether histone methylation involves in beef tenderness variation, we analyzed the transcriptome and H3K4me3 enrichment profiles of muscle strips obtained from the longissimus dorsi (LD) of Angus steers previously classify to the tender or tough group. We first plotted a global bovine H3K4me3 map on chromosomes and called peak-enriched regions and genes. We found that majorities of H3K4me3 on genes were occupying the first intron and intergenic regions and its maps displayed similar patterns in tender and tough groups, with high H3K4me3 enrichment surrounding the transcription start site (TSS). We also explored the relationship of H3K4me3 and gene expression. The results showed that H3K4me3 enrichment is highly positively correlated with gene expression across the whole genome. Cluster analysis results confirmed the relationship of H3K4me3 enrichment and gene expression. By using a pathway-based approach in genes with H3K4me3 enrichment in promoter regions from the tender cluster, we revealed that those genes involved in the development of different tissues–connective tissue, skeletal and muscular system and functional tissues–; while in tough group those genes engaged in cell death, lipid metabolism and small molecule biochemistry. The results from this study provide a deep insight into understanding of the mechanisms of epigenetic regulations in meat quality and beef tenderness.
PMCID: PMC4473007  PMID: 26086782
20.  Histone modifications induced by MDV infection at early cytolytic and latency phases 
BMC Genomics  2015;16(1):311.
Marek’s disease (MD) is a highly contagious, lymphomatous disease of chickens induced by a herpesvirus, Marek’s disease virus (MDV) that is the cause of major annual losses to the poultry industry. MD pathogenesis involves multiple stages including an early cytolytic phase and latency, and transitions between these stages are governed by several host and environmental factors. The success of vaccination strategies has led to the increased virulence of MDV and selective breeding of naturally resistant chickens is seen as a viable alternative. While multiple gene expression studies have been performed in resistant and susceptible populations, little is known about the epigenetic effects of infection.
In this study, we investigated temporal chromatin signatures induced by MDV by analyzing early cytolytic and latent phases of infection in the bursa of Fabricius of MD-resistant and –susceptible birds. Major global variations in chromatin marks were observed at different stages of MD in the two lines. Differential H3K27me3 marks were associated with immune-related pathways, such as MAP kinase signaling, focal adhesion and neuroactive ligand receptor interaction, and suggested varying degrees of silencing in response to infection. Immune-related microRNAs, e.g. gga-miR-155 and gga-miR-10b, bore chromatin signatures, which suggested their contribution to MD-susceptibility. Finally, several members of the focal adhesion pathway, e.g. THBS4 and ITGA1, showed marked concordance between gene expression and chromatin marks indicating putative epigenetic regulation in response to MDV infection.
Our comprehensive analysis of chromatin signatures, therefore, revealed further clues about the epigenetic effects of MDV infection although further studies are necessary to elucidate the functional implications of the observed variations in histone modifications.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12864-015-1492-6) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4404578  PMID: 25896894
21.  Epigenetics and animal virus infections 
PMCID: PMC4349154  PMID: 25788901
histones; non-coding RNAs; epigenetics; virus infection; Methylation
22.  Genome-wide mapping of DNase I hypersensitive sites and association analysis with gene expression in MSB1 cells 
Frontiers in Genetics  2014;5:308.
DNase I hypersensitive sites (DHSs) mark diverse classes of cis-regulatory regions, such as promoters and enhancers. MSB-1 derived from chicken Marek's disease (MD) lymphomas is an MDV-transformed CD4+ T-cell line for MD study. Previously, DNase I HS sites were studied mainly in human cell types for mammalian. To capture the regulatory elements specific to MSB1 cells and explore the molecular mechanisms of T-cell transformation caused by MDV in MD, we generated high-quality of DHSs map and gene expression profile for functional analysis in MSB1 cell line. The total of 21,724 significant peaks of DHSs was identified from around 40 million short reads. DHSs distribution varied between chromosomes and they preferred to enrich in the gene-rich chromosomes. More interesting, DHSs enrichments appeared to be scarce on regions abundant in CpG islands. Besides, we integrated DHSs into the gene expression data and found that DHSs tended to enrich on high expressed genes throughout whole gene regions while DHSs did not show significant changes for low and silent expressed genes. Furthermore, the correlation of DHSs with lincRNAs expression was also calculated and it implied that enhancer-associated lincRNAs probably originated from enhancer-like regions of DHSs. Together, our results indicated that DNase I HS sites highly correlate with active genes expression in MSB1 cells, suggesting DHSs can be considered as markers to identify the cis-regulatory elements associated with chicken Marek's disease.
PMCID: PMC4195362  PMID: 25352859
DNase I; DHS; intergenic DHSs; MSB1; CpG islands; gene expressions; long non-coding RNAs; Marek's disease (MD)
23.  Genome wide CNV analysis reveals additional variants associated with milk production traits in Holsteins 
BMC Genomics  2014;15(1):683.
Milk production is an economically important sector of global agriculture. Much attention has been paid to the identification of quantitative trait loci (QTL) associated with milk, fat, and protein yield and the genetic and molecular mechanisms underlying them. Copy number variation (CNV) is an emerging class of variants which may be associated with complex traits.
In this study, we performed a genome-wide association between CNVs and milk production traits in 26,362 Holstein bulls and cows. A total of 99 candidate CNVs were identified using Illumina BovineSNP50 array data, and association tests for each production trait were performed using a linear regression analysis with PCA correlation. A total of 34 CNVs on 22 chromosomes were significantly associated with at least one milk production trait after false discovery rate (FDR) correction. Some of those CNVs were located within or near known QTL for milk production traits. We further investigated the relationship between associated CNVs with neighboring SNPs. For all 82 combinations of traits and CNVs (less than 400 kb in length), we found 17 cases where CNVs directly overlapped with tag SNPs and 40 cases where CNVs were adjacent to tag SNPs. In 5 cases, CNVs located were in strong linkage disequilibrium with tag SNPs, either within or adjacent to the same haplotype block. There were an additional 20 cases where CNVs did not have a significant association with SNPs, suggesting that the effects of those CNVs were probably not captured by tag SNPs.
We conclude that combining CNV with SNP analyses reveals more genetic variations underlying milk production traits than those revealed by SNPs alone.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/1471-2164-15-683) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4152564  PMID: 25128478
Copy number variation (CNV); dPTA; Association; Milk production traits
24.  DNMT gene expression and methylome in Marek’s disease resistant and susceptible chickens prior to and following infection by MDV 
Epigenetics  2013;8(4):431-444.
Marek’s disease (MD) is characterized as a T cell lymphoma induced by a cell-associated α-herpesvirus, Marek’s disease virus type 1 (MDV1). As with many viral infectious diseases, DNA methylation variations were observed in the progression of MD; these variations are thought to play an important role in host-virus interactions. We observed that DNA methyltransferase 3a (DNMT3a) and 3b (DNMT3b) were differentially expressed in chicken MD-resistant line 63 and MD-susceptible line 72 at 21 d after MDV infection. To better understand the role of methylation variation induced by MDV infection in both chicken lines, we mapped the genome-wide DNA methylation profiles in each line using Methyl-MAPS (methylation mapping analysis by paired-end sequencing). Collectively, the data sets collected in this study provide a more comprehensive picture of the chicken methylome. Overall, methylation levels were reduced in chickens from the resistant line 63 after MDV infection. We identified 11,512 infection-induced differential methylation regions (iDMRs). The number of iDMRs was larger in line 72 than in line 63, and most of iDMRs found in line 63 were overlapped with the iDMRs found in line 72. We further showed that in vitro methylation levels were associated with MDV replication, and found that MDV propagation in the infected cells was restricted by pharmacological inhibition of DNA methylation. Our results suggest that DNA methylation in the host may be associated with disease resistance or susceptibility. The methylation variations induced by viral infection may consequentially change the host transcriptome and result in diverse disease outcomes.
PMCID: PMC3674052  PMID: 23538681
DNA methylation; Marek’s disease; chicken; epigenetics; tumor; viral infection
25.  Co-Expression Analysis of Fetal Weight-Related Genes in Ovine Skeletal Muscle during Mid and Late Fetal Development Stages 
Background: Muscle development and lipid metabolism play important roles during fetal development stages. The commercial Texel sheep are more muscular than the indigenous Ujumqin sheep.
Results: We performed serial transcriptomics assays and systems biology analyses to investigate the dynamics of gene expression changes associated with fetal longissimus muscles during different fetal stages in two sheep breeds. Totally, we identified 1472 differentially expressed genes during various fetal stages using time-series expression analysis. A systems biology approach, weighted gene co-expression network analysis (WGCNA), was used to detect modules of correlated genes among these 1472 genes. Dramatically different gene modules were identified in four merged datasets, corresponding to the mid fetal stage in Texel and Ujumqin sheep, the late fetal stage in Texel and Ujumqin sheep, respectively. We further detected gene modules significantly correlated with fetal weight, and constructed networks and pathways using genes with high significances. In these gene modules, we identified genes like TADA3, LMNB1, TGF-β3, EEF1A2, FGFR1, MYOZ1, and FBP2 correlated with fetal weight.
Conclusion: Our study revealed the complex network characteristics involved in muscle development and lipid metabolism during fetal development stages. Diverse patterns of the network connections observed between breeds and fetal stages could involve some hub genes, which play central roles in fetal development, correlating with fetal weight. Our findings could provide potential valuable biomarkers for selection of body weight-related traits in sheep and other livestock.
PMCID: PMC4183924  PMID: 25285036
Serial expression analysis; WGCNA; fetal development stages; fetal weight.

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