Identification of Sheep Ovary Genes Potentially Associated with Off-season Reproduction

Lei Chen, Ka Liu, Zongsheng Zhao, Hugh T. Blair, Peng Zhang, Daquan Li, Runlin Z. Ma

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


Off-season reproduction is a favorable economic trait for sheep industry. Hu sheep, an indigenous Chinese sheep breed, demonstrates a higher productivity of lambs and displays year-around oestrous behavior under proper nutrition and environment. The genetic basis behind these traits, however, is not well understood. In order to identify genes associated with the off-season reproduction, we constructed a suppression subtractive hybridization (SSH) cDNA library using pooled ovary mRNAs of 6 oestrous Hu females as a tester and the pooled ovary mRNAs of 6 non-oestrous Chinese Merino females as a driver. A total of 382 resulting positive clones were obtained after the SSH. We identified 114 differentially up-regulated genes in oestrous Hu sheep by using subsequent screening and DNA sequencing, of which 8 were previously known, 93 were reported for the first time in sheep, and 13 were novel with no significant homology to any sequence in the DNA databases. Functions of the genes identified are related to cell division, signal transduction, structure, metabolism, or cell defense. To validate the results of SSH, 6 genes (Ntrk2, Ppap2b, Htra1, Nid1, Serpine2 and Foxola) were selected for conformational analysis using quantitative real-time PCR (qRT-PCR), and two of them (Htral and Foxo1a) were verified by Northern blot. All of the 6 genes were differentially up-regulated in the ovary of oestrous Hu. It is obvious that off-season reproduction is a complex trait involving multiple genes in multiple organs. This study helps to provide a foundation for the final identification of functional genes involved in the sheep ovary.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)181-190
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Genetics and Genomics
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 20 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • CDNA library
  • Hu sheep
  • Oestrous
  • Ovary
  • Suppression subtractive hybridization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics
  • Molecular Biology


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