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Background: Weighted Gene Co-expression Network analysis, a powerful technique used to extract co-expressed gene pattern from mRNA expression data, was constructed to infer common immune strategies used by cattle in response to five different bacterial species (Escherichia coli, Mycobacterium avium, Mycobacterium bovis, Salmonella and Staphylococcus aureus) and a protozoa (Trypanosoma Congolense) using 604 publicly available gene expression microarrays from 12 cattle infection experiments.
Results: A total of 14,999 transcripts that were differentially expressed (DE) in at least three different infection experiments were consolidated into 15 modules that contained between 43 and 4441 transcripts. The high number of shared DE transcripts between the different types of infections indicated that there were potentially common immune strategies used in response to these infections. The number of transcripts in the identified modules varied in response to different infections. Fourteen modules showed a strong functional enrichment for specific GO/pathway terms related to “immune system process” (71%), “metabolic process” (71%), “growth and developmental process” (64%) and “signaling pathways” (50%), which demonstrated the close interconnection between these biological pathways in response to different infections. The largest module in the network had several over-represented GO/pathway terms related to different aspects of lipid metabolism and genes in this module were down-regulated for the most part during various infections. Significant negative correlations between this module’s eigengene values, three immune related modules in the network, and close interconnection between their hub genes, might indicate the potential co-regulation of these modules during different infections in bovine. In addition, the potential function of 93 genes with no functional annotation was inferred based on neighbor analysis and functional uniformity among associated genes. Several hypothetical genes were differentially expressed during experimental infections, which might indicate their important role in cattle response to different infections.
Conclusions: We identified several biological pathways involved in immune response to different infections in cattle. These findings provide rich information for experimental biologists to design experiments, interpret experimental results, and develop novel hypothesis on immune response to different infections in cattle.
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Beiki, Hamid; Pakdel, Abbas; Javaremi, Ardeshir Nejati; Masoudi-Nejad, Ali; and Reecy, James M., "Cattle infection response network and its functional modules" (2018). Animal Science Publications. 439.