The study was conducted to investigate the transcriptomic differences of the hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadal axis between Xinjiang Yili geese with high and low egg production and to find candidate genes regulating the egg production of Xinjiang Yili geese. The 8 selected Xinjiang Yili Geese with high or low egg production (4 for each group) were 3 years old, with good health, and under the same feeding condition. High-throughput sequencing technology was used to sequence cDNA libraries of the hypothalami, pituitary glands, and ovaries. The sequencing data were compared and analyzed, and the transcripts with significant differences were identified and analyzed with bioinformatics. The study showed that the transcriptome sequencing data of the 24 samples contained a total of 1,176,496,146 valid reads and 176.47 gigabase data. Differential expression analyses identified 135, 56, and 331 genes in the hypothalami, pituitary glands, and ovaries of Xinjiang Yili geese with high and low egg production. Further annotation of these differentially expressed genes in the non-redundant protein sequence database (Nr) revealed that 98, 52, and 309 genes were annotated, respectively. Through the annotations of GO (Gene Ontology) and KEGG (Kyoto Encyclopedia of Genes and Genomes) databases, 30 candidate genes related to the egg production of Xinjiang Yili geese were preliminarily selected. The gap junction, focal adhesion, and ECM-receptor interaction signaling pathways were enriched with the hypothalamic, pituitary, and ovarian differentially expressed genes, and the calcium signaling pathway was enriched with the pituitary and ovarian differentially expressed genes. Thus, these pathways in the hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadal axis may play an important role in regulating egg production of Xinjiang Yili geese. The results provided the transcriptomic information of the hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadal axis of Xinjiang Yili geese and laid the theoretical basis for revealing the molecular mechanisms regulating the egg-laying traits of Xinjiang Yili geese.
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