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Small intestinal epithelium homeostasis involves four principal cell types: enterocytes, goblet, enteroendocrine and Paneth cells. Epidermal growth factor (EGF) has been shown to affect enterocyte differentiation. This study determined the effect of dietary EGF on goblet, enteroendocrine and Paneth cell differentiation in piglet small intestine and potential mechanisms. Forty-two weaned piglets were used in a 2 × 3 factorial design; the major factors were time post-weaning (days 7 and 14) and dietary treatment (0, 200 or 400 µg/kg EGF supplementation). The numbers of goblet and enteroendocrine cells were generally greater with the increase in time post-weaning. Moreover, the supplementation of 200 µg/kg EGF increased (P < 0.01) the number of goblet and enteroendocrine cells in villus and crypt of the piglet small intestine as compared with the control. Dietary supplementation with 200 µg/kg EGF enhanced (P < 0.05) abundances of differentiation-related genes atonal homologue 1, mucin 2 and intestinal trefoil factor 3 messenger RNA (mRNA) as compared with the control. Piglets fed 200 or 400 µg/kg EGF diet had increased (P < 0.05) abundances of growth factor-independent 1, SAM pointed domain containing ETS transcription factor and pancreatic and duodenal homeobox 1 mRNA, but decreased the abundance (P < 0.01) of E74 like ETS transcription factor 3 mRNA as compared with the control. Animals receiving 400 µg/kg EGF diets had enhanced (P < 0.05) abundances of neurogenin3 and SRY-box containing gene 9 mRNA as compared with the control. The mRNA abundance and protein expression of lysozyme, a marker of Paneth cell, were also increased (P < 0.05) in those animals. As compared with the control, dietary supplementation with 200 µg/kg EGF increased the abundance of EGF receptor mRNA and the ratio of non-phospho(p)-β-catenin/β-catenin (P < 0.05) in villus epithelial cells at days 7 and 14. This ratio in crypt epithelial cells was higher (P < 0.05) on the both 200 and 400 µg/kg EGF groups during the same period. Our results demonstrated that dietary EGF stimulated goblet, enteroendocrine and Paneth cell differentiation in piglets during the post-weaning period, partly through EGFR and Wnt/β-catenin signalling.
KRTAP8-1 was the initial high-glycine-tyrosine keratin-associated protein gene recognized in sheep, but little is known about the functional influence of this gene. The current study used polymerase chain reaction-single stranded conformational polymorphism analysis to genotype KRTAP8-1 in 391 Southdown × Merino-cross sheep from six sire-lines. Five previously described variants (named A to E) of KRTAP8-1 were identified with frequencies of 67.0, 14.2, 7.0, 10.7 and 1.0%, respectively. Of the four variants (A, B, C and D) that occurred at a frequency greater than 5%, the presence of C was found to be associated with a reduction in mean fibre curvature (MFC) and the presence of D was associated with an increase in mean staple strength (MSS), whereas the presence of A had a trend of association with reduced MSS. Associations were not identified with other wool traits. These results suggest that variation in KRTAP8-1 affects MSS and MFC, and that KRTAP8-1 has the potential to be used as a genetic marker for improving these traits.
Muscle fiber characteristics comprise a set of complex traits that influence the meat quality and lean meat production of livestock. However, the genetic and biological mechanisms regulating muscle fiber characteristics are largely unknown in pigs. Based on a genome-wide association study (GWAS) performed on 421 Large White × Min pig F2 individuals presenting well-characterized phenotypes, this work aimed to detect genome variations and candidate genes for five muscle fiber characteristics: percentage of type I fibers (FIB1P), percentage of type IIA fibers (FIB2AP), percentage of type IIB fibers (FIB2BP), diameter of muscle fibers (DIAMF) and number of muscle fibers per unit area (NUMMF). The GWAS used the Illumina Porcine SNP60K genotypic data, which were analyzed by a mixed model. Seven and 10 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) were significantly associated with DIAMF and NUMMF, respectively (P < 1.10E-06); no SNP was significantly associated with FIB1P, FIB2AP or FIB2B. For DIAMF, the significant SNPs on chromosome 4 were located in the previously reported quantitative trait loci (QTL) interval. Because the significant SNPs on chromosome 6 were not mapped in the previously reported QTL interval, a putative novel QTL was suggested for this locus. None of the previously reported QTL intervals on chromosomes 6 and 14 harbored significant SNPs for NUMMF; thus, new potential QTLs on these two chromosomes are suggested in the present work. The most significant SNPs associated with DIAMF (ALGA0025682) and NUMMF (MARC0046984) explained 12.02% and 11.59% of the phenotypic variation of these traits, respectively. In addition, both SNPs were validated as associated with DIAMF and NUMMF in Beijing Black pigs (P < 0.01). Some candidate genes or non-coding RNAs, such as solute carrier family 44 member 5 and miR-124a-1 for DIAMF, and coiled-coil serine rich protein 2 for NUMMF, were identified based on their close location to the significant SNPs. This study revealed some genome-wide association variants for muscle fiber characteristics, and it provides valuable information to discover the genetic mechanisms controlling these traits in pigs.
Rumen-protected betaine (RPB) can enhance betaine absorption in the small intestine of ruminants, while betaine can alter fat distribution and has the potential to affect the meat quality of livestock. Hence, we hypothesized that RPB might also affect the meat quality of lambs. Sixty male Hu sheep of similar weight (30.47 ± 2.04 kg) were selected and randomly subjected to five different treatments. The sheep were fed a control diet (control treatment, CTL); 1.1 g/day unprotected-betaine supplemented diet (UPB); or doses of 1.1 g/day (low RPB treatment; L-PB), 2.2 g/day (middle RPB treatment; M-PB) or 3.3 g/day (high RPB treatment; H-PB) RPB-supplemented diet for 70 days. Slaughter performance, meat quality, fatty acid and amino acid content in the longissimus dorsi (LD) muscle, shoulder muscle (SM) and gluteus muscle (GM) were measured. Compared with CTL, betaine (including UPB and RPB) supplementation increased the average daily weight gain (ADG) (P < 0.05) and average daily feed intake (P < 0.01) of lambs. Rumen-protected betaine increased ADG (P < 0.05) compared with UPB. With increasing RPB doses, the eye muscle area of the lambs linearly increased (P < 0.05). Compared with CTL, betaine supplementation decreased water loss (P < 0.05) in SM and increased pH24 in the SM (P < 0.05) and GM (P < 0.05). Compared with UPB, RPB decreased water loss in the GM (P < 0.01), decreased shear force (P < 0.05) in the LD and SM and increased the pH of the meat 24 h after slaughter (pH24). With increasing RPB doses, the shear force and b* value in the LD linearly decreased (P < 0.05), and the pH24 of the meat quadratically increased (P < 0.05). Compared with CTL, betaine supplementation increased the polyunsaturated fatty acid in the GM (P < 0.05). Compared with UPB, RPB supplementation decreased the saturated fatty acid (SFA) content in the LD (P < 0.05) and increased the unsaturated fatty acids (UFA), mono-unsaturated fatty acids and UFA/SFA ratio in the LD (P < 0.05). Compared with CTL, the content of histidine in the LD increased with betaine supplementation. Compared with UPB, RPB supplementation increased the content of total free amino acids and flavor amino acids in the LD of lambs (P < 0.05). With increasing RPB, the isoleucine and phenylalanine contents in the LD linearly increased (P < 0.05). Overall, the data collected indicated that the meat quality of lambs (especially in the LD) improved as a result of betaine supplementation, and RPB showed better effects than those of UPB.