Genetic assessment of inbred chicken lines indicates genomic signatures of resistance to Marek’s disease

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Xu, L., He, Y., Ding, Y. et al. Genetic assessment of inbred chicken lines indicates genomic signatures of resistance to Marek’s disease. J Animal Sci Biotechnol 9, 65 (2018).


Marek’s disease (MD) is a highly contagious pathogenic and oncogenic disease primarily affecting chickens. However, the mechanisms of genetic resistance for MD are complex and not fully understood. MD-resistant line 63 and MD-susceptible line 72 are two highly inbred progenitor lines of White Leghorn. Recombinant Congenic Strains (RCS) were developed from these two lines, which show varied susceptibility to MD. We investigated genetic structure and genomic signatures across the genome, including the line 63 and line 72, six RCSs, and two reciprocally crossed flocks between the lines 63 and 72 (F1 63 × 72 and F1 72 × 63) using Affymetrix® Axiom® HD 600 K genotyping array. We observed 18 chickens from RCS lines were specifically clustered into resistance sub-groups distributed around line 63. Additionally, homozygosity analysis was employed to explore potential genetic components related to MD resistance, while runs of homozygosity (ROH) are regions of the genome where the identical haplotypes are inherited from each parent. We found several genes including SIK, SOX1, LIG4, SIK1 and TNFSF13B were contained in ROH region identified in resistant group (line 63 and RCS), and these genes have been reported that are contribute to immunology and survival. Based on FST based population differential analysis, we also identified important genes related to cell death and anti-apoptosis, including AKT1, API5, CDH13, CFDP and USP15, which could be involved in divergent selection during inbreeding process. Our findings offer valuable insights for understanding the genetic mechanism of resistance to MD and the identified genes could be considered as candidate biomarkers in further evaluation.