Wool follicle development and growth is a highly ordered and complex process involving the sequential expression of numerous genes within diverse cell populations. The aim of present studies using microarray analysis is to identify genes and pathways involved in the growth of wool follicles which could be utilised to increase farm productivity and improve the characteristics of Australasian wools. An ovine cDNA array was developed including sequences derived from sheep skin containing wool follicles in different growth stages encompassing many structural and regulatory genes necessary for follicular growth. Initial comparison of stages of wool follicle regression show marked changes in the expression levels of numerous genes including wool keratins. Two parallel research projects in Australia and New Zealand supported by SheepGenomics are currently utilising microarray technology to profile gene expression during key stages of wool follicle development in the foetus and follicular cycling associated with fleece shedding.

Z-D, Yu, CS Bawden, HV Henderson, AJ Nixon, SW Gordon, and AJ Pearson

Proceedings of the New Zealand Society of Animal Production, Volume 66, Napier, 129-133, 2006
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