Reproduction, Fertility and Development Reproduction, Fertility and Development Society
Vertebrate reproductive science and technology
RESEARCH ARTICLE

Nutritional status affects the microRNA profile of the hypothalamus of female sheep

Heng Yang A , Shan Lin B , Xiaoping Lei A , Cong Yuan A , Yaosheng Yu A , Zongsheng Zhao A D and Jingbo Chen A C D
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A College of Animal Science and Technology, Shihezi University, North Fourth Road, Shihezi 832003, China.

B College of Life Sciences, Shihezi University, North Fourth Road, Shihezi 832003, China.

C Xinjiang Academy of Animal Sciences, Karamay Street No. 151, Urumqi 830000, China.

D Corresponding authors. Emails: zhaozongsh@shzu.edu.cn; chenjb126@126.com

Reproduction, Fertility and Development - https://doi.org/10.1071/RD17179
Submitted: 19 August 2016  Accepted: 21 October 2017   Published online: 25 January 2018

Abstract

Recent studies on the seasonal regulation of the oestrous cycle in sheep have focussed mainly on the responses to photoperiod. However, the brain systems that control reproductive activity also respond to nutritional inputs, although the molecular mechanisms involved are not completely understood. One possibility is that small, non-coding RNAs, such as micro-RNAs (miRNAs), have significant influence. In the present study, the amounts and characteristics of miRNAs in hypothalamus from oestrous and anestrous ewes, fed low- or high-nutrient diets, were compared using Illumina HiSeq sequencing technology. In total, 398 miRNAs, including 261 novel miRNAs, were identified in ewes with an enhanced nutritional status (HEN), whereas 384 miRNAs, including 247 novel miRNAs, were identified in the ewes with a lesser nutritional status (HAN). There were eight conserved and 140 novel miRNAs expressed differentially between the two libraries. Based on quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction, six miRNAs were assessed to verify the accuracy of the library database. Moreover, the correlation between the miRNA target and several upstream and downstream genes in the oestrus-related pathways were also verified in hypothalamus nerve cells. According to the results, nutritional status plays an important role in oestrous regulation in sheep, and the hypothalamic processes and pathways induced by nutritional signals (folic acid and tyrosine) are different from those induced by photoperiodic regulation of oestrus. We have expanded the repertoire of sheep miRNAs that could contribute to the molecular mechanisms that regulate the initiation of oestrous cycles in anestrous ewes in response to the influence of nutritional status.

Additional keywords: miRNA, oestrus regulation, seasonal breeding.


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