Stressful environments can affect not only egg production and quality but also gene and protein abundance in the ovary and oviduct in laying hens. The oviductal magnum of laying hens is the organ responsible for the synthesis and secretion of egg white proteins. The objective of this study was to investigate the effects of dietary corticosterone as a stress model on the abundance of proteins in the egg white and of mRNA and proteins in the magnum in laying hens. After a 14-day acclimation, 40 laying hens were divided into two groups which were provided for the next 14 days with either control (Control) or corticosterone (Stress) diet containing at 30 mg/kg. Corticosterone treatment resulted in increased feed intake (P ≤ 0.05) and decreased egg production. Two-dimensional electrophoresis (2DE) with MALDI-TOF/TOF MS/MS using eggs obtained on days 0 and 5 revealed differential abundance of egg white proteins by Stress: transiently expressed in neural precursors (TENP), hemopexin (HPX), IgY-Fcυ3-4, and extracellular fatty acid-binding protein (Ex-FABP) were decreased while ovoinhibitor and ovalbumin-related protein X (OVAX) were increased on days 5 vs 0 (P ≤ 0.05). Expression of mRNAs and proteins was also significantly modulated in the magnum of hens in Stress on day 14 (P ≤ 0.05). In conclusion, the current study provides the first evidence showing that dietary corticosterone modulates protein abundance in the egg white in laying hens, and it suggests that environmental stress can differentially modify expression of egg white proteins in laying hens.
MALDI-TOF/TOF MS/MS; corticosterone; egg white proteins; laying hens; stress; two-dimensional gel electrophoresis