Wool growth in Wiltshire sheep was synchronised by daylength manipulation to allow identification of genes that are regulated during transitions in the wool follicle cycle. Pair-wise comparisons between growing and resting phases were conducted using both direct and indirect cDNA microarray analysis. The two approaches were well correlated at three different levels: overall similar patterns of gene expression, detection of changes in keratin gene expression, and reduced differential expression between closer cycle stages. Using more slides, the indirect approach identified more expressed sequence tags (ESTs) (indirect 1132, direct 444), and had higher coverage of wool keratins (indirect 78%, direct 42%). This study demonstrates the usefulness of cDNA microarray for expression profiling in whole skin. Further characterisation of genes identified by this work, particularly the smaller sets of ESTs derived from comparisons at early stages of follicle regression and regrowth, would improve our understanding and provide leads for alternative wool harvesting technology or enhancing wool growth.

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

Proceedings of the New Zealand Society of Animal Production, Volume 68, Brisbane, Australia, 39-42, 2008
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