Rabbit is an economically important farm animal in China and also is a widely used animal model in biological researches. Rabbits are very sensitive to the environmental conditions, therefore we investigated the liver transcriptome changes in response to chronic heat stress in the present study. Six Hyla rabbits were randomly divided into two groups: chronic heat stress (HS) and controls without heat stress (CN). Six RNA-Seq libraries totally yielded 380 million clean reads after the quality filtering. Approximately 85.07% of reads were mapped to the reference genome. After assembling transcripts and quantifying gene expression levels, we detected 51 differentially expressed genes (DEGs) between HS and CN groups with thresholds of the adjusted p
-value < 0.05 and |log2(FoldChange)| > 1. Among them, 33 and 18 genes were upregulated and downregulated, respectively. Gene ontology analyses further revealed that these DEGs were mainly associated with metabolism of lipids, thyroid hormone metabolic process, and cellular modified amino acid catabolic process. The upregulated ACACB
, and CYP7A1
genes were found to be inter-related through biological processes of thioester biosynthetic process, acyl-CoA biosynthetic process, acetyl-CoA metabolic process, and others. Six DEGs were further validated by quantitative real-time PCR analysis. The results revealed the candidate genes and biological processes that will potentially be considered as important regulatory factors involved in the heat stress response in rabbits.
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