Identification of Age-Specific and Common Key Regulatory Mechanisms Governing Eggshell Strength in Chicken Using Random Forests
Citable Link (URL):http://resolver.sub.uni-goettingen.de/purl?gs-1/17412
In today’s chicken egg industry, maintaining the strength of eggshells in longer laying cycles is pivotal for improving the persistency of egg laying. Eggshell development and mineralization underlie a complex regulatory interplay of various proteins and signaling cascades involving multiple organ systems. Understanding the regulatory mechanisms influencing this dynamic trait over time is imperative, yet scarce. To investigate the temporal changes in the signaling cascades, we considered eggshell strength at two different time points during the egg production cycle and studied the genotype–phenotype associations by employing the Random Forests algorithm on chicken genotypic data. For the analysis of corresponding genes, we adopted a well established systems biology approach to delineate gene regulatory pathways and master regulators underlying this important trait. Our results indicate that, while some of the master regulators ($Slc22a1$ and $Sox11$) and pathways are common at different laying stages of chicken, others (e.g., $Scn11a$, $St8sia2$, or the TGF-$\beta$ pathway) represent age-specific functions. Overall, our results provide: (i) significant insights into age-specific and common molecular mechanisms underlying the regulation of eggshell strength; and (ii) new breeding targets to improve the eggshell quality during the later stages of the chicken production cycle.
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