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Journal of Integrative Agriculture  2021, Vol. 20 Issue (11): 2986-2994    DOI: 10.1016/S2095-3119(20)63486-4
Special Issue: 动物科学合辑Animal Science
Animal Science · Veterinary Medicine Advanced Online Publication | Current Issue | Archive | Adv Search |
UBE2I stimulates female gonadal differentiation in chicken (Gallus gallus) embryos
JIN Kai1, 2, 3*, ZHOU Jing1, 2, 3*, ZUO Qi-sheng1, 2, 3, LI Jian-cheng1, 2, 3, Jiuzhou SONG4, ZHANG Ya-ni1, 2, 3, CHANG Guo-bing1, 2, 3, CHEN Guo-hong1, 2, 3, LI Bi-chun1, 2, 3 
1 Key Laboratory of Animal Breeding Reproduction and Molecular Design for Jiangsu Province, College of Animal Science and Technology, Yangzhou University, Yangzhou 225009, P.R.China
2 Institutes of Agricultural Science and Technology Development, Yangzhou University, Yangzhou 225009, P.R.China
3 Joint International Research Laboratory of Agriculture and Agri-Product Safety of Ministry of Education of China, Yangzhou University, Yangzhou 225009, P.R.China
4 Animal & Avian Sciences, University of Maryland, College Park, MD, 20741, USA
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Without known analogous sex-determining factors like SRY (sex determining region Y) in mammals, the chicken (Gallus gallus) sex determination mechanism still remains unclear, which highly restricts the biological research on chicken development and poultry single-sex reproduction.  Here we not only characterized a new female-biased gene UBE2I and identified the expression pattern by qRT-PCR, but also described the functional role of UBE2I in the gonadal development of chicken embryos.  Results showed that UBE2I exhibited a female-biased expression pattern in the early stage of PGCs (primordial germ cells) in embryonic gonads and robust expression in ovaries of newborn chickens.  Most importantly, we successfully developed an effective method to interfere or overexpress UBE2I in chicken embryos through the intravascular injection.  The qRT-PCR analysis showed that the sex-related genes (FOXL2, CYP19A1 and HINTW) in females were upregulated (P<0.05) under the overexpression of UBE2I and the sex-related genes (SOX9, DMRT1 and WT1) in females were downregulated (P<0.05) after interfering UBE2I.  Furthermore, the change of UBE2I expression was associated with the level of estradiol and its receptors (AR and ESR), which suggests that UBE2I is necessary to initiate the female-specific development in chickens.  In conclusion, this work demonstrates that UBE2I is a crucial sex differentiation-related gene in the embryonic development of chickens, which provides insights for further understanding the mechanism of sex determination in chickens.
Keywords:  UBE2I        gonadal differentiation        chicken embryonic        sex differentiation  
Received: 09 May 2020   Accepted:
Fund: This work was funded by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (31772582 and 31972547), the National Key R&D Program of China (2017YFE0108000), the High Level Talents Support Program of Yangzhou University, Postgraduate Research & Practice Innovation Program of Jiangsu Province, China (KYCX18_2376), the Jiangsu Science and Technology Project, China (Youth Fund, BK20180918), and the Natural Science Research Project of Jiangsu Higher Education Institutions, China (18KJB230008).
Corresponding Authors:  Correspondence LI Bi-chun, Tel: +86-514-87977207, Fax: +86-514-87350440, E-mail:    
About author:  JIN Kai, E-mail:; * These authors contributed equally to this study.

Cite this article: 

JIN Kai, ZHOU Jing, ZUO Qi-sheng, LI Jian-cheng, Jiuzhou SONG, ZHANG Ya-ni, CHANG Guo-bing, CHEN Guo-hong, LI Bi-chun. 2021. UBE2I stimulates female gonadal differentiation in chicken (Gallus gallus) embryos. Journal of Integrative Agriculture, 20(11): 2986-2994.

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