Expression of genes related to mitochondrial function in Nellore cattle divergently ranked on residual feed intake
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Several measures have been proposed to investigate and improve feed efficiency in cattle. One of the most commonly used measure of feed efficiency is residual feed intake (RFI), which is estimated as the difference between actual feed intake and expected feed intake based on the animal's average live weight. This measure permits to identify and select the most efficient animals without selecting for higher mature weight. Mitochondrial function has been indicated as a major factor that influences RFI. The analysis of genes involved in mitochondrial function is therefore an alternative to identify molecular markers associated with higher feed efficiency. This study analyzed the expression of PGC1 alpha, TFAM, UCP2 and UCP3 genes by quantitative real-time PCR in liver and muscle tissues of two groups of Nellore cattle divergently ranked on RFI values in order to evaluate the relationship of these genes with RFI. In liver tissue, higher expression of TFAM and UCP2 genes was observed in the negative RFI group. Expression of PGC1 alpha gene did not differ significantly between the two groups, whereas UCP3 gene was not expressed in liver tissue. In muscle tissue, higher expression of TFAM gene was observed in the positive RFI group. Expression of PGC1 alpha, UCP2 and UCP3 genes did not differ significantly between the two groups. These results suggest the use of TFAM and UCP2 as possible candidate gene markers in breeding programs designed to increase the feed efficiency of Nellore cattle.
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