Heat stress has a severe effect on animal health and can reduce the productivity and reproductive efficiency; it is therefore necessary to explore the molecular mechanism involved in heat stress response, which is helpful for the cultivation of an animal breed with resistance to heat stress. However, little research about heat stress-responsive molecular analysis has been reported in sheep. Therefore, in this study, RNA sequencing (RNA-Seq) was used to investigate the transcriptome profiling in the liver of Hu sheep with and without heat stress. In total, we detected 520 and 22 differentially expressed mRNAs and lncRNAs, respectively. The differentially expressed mRNAs were mainly associated with metabolic processes, the regulation of biosynthetic processes, and the regulation of glucocorticoid; additionally, they were significantly enriched in the heat stress related pathways, including the carbon metabolism, the PPAR signaling pathway, and vitamin digestion and absorption. The co-located differentially expressed lncRNA Lnc_001782 might positively influence the expression of the corresponding genes APOA4 and APOA5, exerting co-regulative effects on the liver function. Thus, we made the hypothesis that Lnc_001782, APOA4 and APOA5 might function synergistically to regulate the anti-heat stress ability in Hu sheep. This study provides a catalog of Hu sheep liver mRNAs and lncRNAs, and will contribute to a better understanding of the molecular mechanism underlying heat stress responses.
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