The production and welfare of intensively reared fish would be improved by reducing stress responsiveness. One approach to achieving this goal is selective breeding utilizing stress-responsive genes as direct genetic markers of the desirable trait. As a first step in this process, microarray analysis has been carried out on liver tissues of rainbow trout selectively bred for high (HR) or low (LR) responsiveness to a stressor. Microarray hybridizations provided gene expression profiles for pooled samples of fish confined for 6 h, 24 h and 168 h and for individual fish (168 h only). 161 genes were shown to be differentially regulated in HR and LR fish during confinement exposure and eight of these gene expression profiles were validated by quantitative PCR. Genes of particular interest included intelectin-2 precursor which showed greater than 100-fold higher expression in HR fish compared to LR fish irrespective of whether the fish were confined or not; interferon inducible transmembrane protein 3 which was differentially stress-induced between the two lines; and hepatic pro-opiomelanocortin B (POMC B) which was upregulated during stress in HR fish but downregulated in LR fish. All these offer potential as direct markers of low stress responsiveness in a marker-assisted selection scheme
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