Response of the Hepatic Transcriptome to Aflatoxin B-1 in Domestic Turkey (Meleagris gallopavo)


Dietary exposure to aflatoxin B1 (AFB1) is detrimental to avian health and leads to major economic losses for the poultry industry. AFB1 is especially hepatotoxic in domestic turkeys (Meleagris gallopavo), since these birds are unable to detoxify AFB1 by glutathione-conjugation. The impacts of AFB1 on the turkey hepatic transcriptome and the potential protection from pretreatment with a Lactobacillus-based probiotic mixture were investigated through RNA-sequencing. Animals were divided into four treatment groups and RNA was subsequently recovered from liver samples. Four pooled RNA-seq libraries were sequenced to produce over 322 M reads totaling 13.8 Gb of sequence. Approximately 170,000 predicted transcripts were de novo assembled, of which 803 had significant differential expression in at least one pair-wise comparison between treatment groups. Functional analysis linked many of the transcripts significantly affected by AFB1 exposure to cancer, apoptosis, the cell cycle or lipid regulation. Most notable were transcripts from the genes encoding E3 ubiquitin-protein ligase Mdm2, osteopontin, S-adenosylmethionine synthase isoform type-2, and lipoprotein lipase. Expression was modulated by the probiotics, but treatment did not completely mitigate the effects of AFB1. Genes identified through transcriptome analysis provide candidates for further study of AFB1 toxicity and targets for efforts to improve the health of domestic turkeys exposed to AFB1.