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Comparative transcriptome profiles of Lindian chicken eyelids identify melanin genes controlling eyelid pigmentation

Yuan, H., Zhang, X., Zhang, Q., Wang, Y., Wang, S., Li, Y., Zhang, Y., Jing, J., Qiu, J., Wang, Z., Leng, L.
British poultry science 2019 v.60 no.1 pp. 15-22
chickens, color, domestication, eggs, enzymes, eyelids, feathers, flavor, gene expression regulation, genes, meat, melanin, melanogenesis, pigmentation, proteins, purchasing, transcriptomics, tyrosine, China
1. During the long history of chicken domestication, eyelid colour, like skin colour and shank colour, has been one of the physical traits of Chinese indigenous chickens that influence consumer buying behaviour. In China, the Lindian chicken, which has coloured feathers, is renowned for the appetizing flavour of its meat and eggs, and its eyelid colours vary from deep (black) to light shades (light yellow). 2. To investigate genes involved in eyelid colour, the expression profiles of black and light-yellow eyelids of Lindian chickens were analysed with transcriptome sequencing. 3. A total of 13 466 genes were detected in the eyelids, among which 14 were differentially expressed. Among these differentially expressed genes (DEGs), three key genes, premelanosome protein (PMEL), dopachrome tautomerase (DCT), and tyrosinase (TYR), encoded proteins that positively regulate melanogenesis and melanin deposition. PMEL, DCT and TYR were expressed much more strongly in the black eyelids than in the light-yellow eyelids. A Kyoto Encyclopedia of Genes and Genomes pathway analysis showed that tyrosine metabolism and melanogenesis genes were significantly enriched among these DEGs (corrected P < 0.05). 4. In conclusion, melanin may be one of the main factors involved in Lindian chicken eyelid colour. Furthermore, these results provide a valuable resource for the future study of the physical traits of Lindian chicken.