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Gene expression identifies metabolic and functional differences between intramuscular and subcutaneous adipocytes in cattle

Hudson, N.J., Reverter, A., Griffiths, W.J., Yutuc, E., Wang, Y., Jeanes, A., McWilliam, S., Pethick, D.W.ORCID: 0000-0002-3255-7677 and Greenwood, P.L. (2020) Gene expression identifies metabolic and functional differences between intramuscular and subcutaneous adipocytes in cattle. BMC Genomics, 21 (1). Art. 77.

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This study used a genome-wide screen of gene expression to better understand the metabolic and functional differences between commercially valuable intramuscular fat (IMF) and commercially wasteful subcutaneous (SC) fat depots in Bos taurus beef cattle.

We confirmed many findings previously made at the biochemical level and made new discoveries. The fundamental lipogenic machinery, such as ACACA and FASN encoding the rate limiting Acetyl CoA carboxylase and Fatty Acid synthase were expressed at 1.6–1.8 fold lower levels in IMF, consistent with previous findings. The FA elongation pathway including the rate limiting ELOVL6 was also coordinately downregulated in IMF compared to SC as expected. A 2-fold lower expression in IMF of ACSS2 encoding Acetyl Coenzyme A synthetase is consistent with utilisation of less acetate for lipogenesis in IMF compared to SC as previously determined using radioisotope incorporation. Reduced saturation of fat in the SC depot is reflected by 2.4 fold higher expression of the SCD gene encoding the Δ9 desaturase enzyme. Surprisingly, CH25H encoding the cholesterol 25 hydroxylase enzyme was ~ 36 fold upregulated in IMF compared to SC. Moreover, its expression in whole muscle tissue appears representative of the proportional representation of bovine marbling adipocytes. This suite of observations prompted quantification of a set of oxysterols (oxidised forms of cholesterol) in the plasma of 8 cattle exhibiting varying IMF. Using Liquid Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry (LC-MS) we found the levels of several oxysterols were significantly associated with multiple marbling measurements across the musculature, but (with just one exception) no other carcass phenotypes.

These data build on our molecular understanding of ruminant fat depot biology and suggest oxysterols represent a promising circulating biomarker for cattle marbling.

Item Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Veterinary and Life Sciences
Publisher: BioMed Central
Copyright: © 2020 The Author(s).
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