Understanding DNA and RNA Changes in Muscle Development

Greg Howard
23rd May, 2024

Understanding DNA and RNA Changes in Muscle Development

Image Source: Natural Science News, 2024

Key Findings

  • Researchers at Shandong Agricultural University studied Duroc pigs to understand genetic factors influencing muscle growth
  • They found key genes with different methylation and expression levels in pigs with varying growth rates
  • These genes are involved in muscle growth, fatty acid metabolism, and protein synthesis, impacting overall pig growth and meat quality
Skeletal muscle development is a key factor in determining both the yield and quality of pork. This process is influenced by a variety of genetic and environmental factors. In a recent study conducted by Shandong Agricultural University, researchers used whole-genome bisulfite sequencing (WGBS) and transcriptome sequencing to investigate the longissimus dorsi muscle (LDM) in Duroc pigs with different average daily gains (ADGs)[1]. The aim was to identify key genes that impact the growth and development of these pigs. Previous studies have shown significant differences in intramuscular fat content between different pig breeds, such as the Duroc and Luchuan pigs[2]. The Luchuan pigs, known for their higher intramuscular fat content, also exhibit higher levels of triglycerides and diglycerides which are related to flavor[2]. This difference is believed to be due to variations in the expression of key genes in the glycerolipid metabolism signaling pathway[2]. Additionally, the Duroc pig, which originated in the United States, is known for its fast growth and large body size but poorer meat quality compared to the Luchuan pig[3]. Transcriptome analysis has revealed that 3682 genes are differentially expressed in the longissimus dorsi muscle of Duroc and Luchuan pigs, affecting muscle development, fatty acid metabolism, and intramuscular fat deposition[3]. The current study builds on these findings by focusing specifically on Duroc pigs with varying ADGs. By employing WGBS and transcriptome sequencing, the researchers aimed to gain a comprehensive understanding of the genetic factors that influence muscle development and growth rates in these pigs. WGBS is a technique that allows for the detailed analysis of DNA methylation patterns across the entire genome. DNA methylation is an epigenetic modification that can regulate gene expression, and changes in methylation patterns can have significant effects on muscle development. The study identified several key genes that are differentially methylated and expressed in Duroc pigs with different ADGs. These genes are involved in various biological pathways, including those related to muscle growth, fatty acid metabolism, and protein synthesis. For instance, genes associated with the Akt/FoxO signaling pathway, which has been previously linked to muscle growth and fatty acid metabolism in pigs[3], were found to be differentially methylated and expressed. This suggests that epigenetic modifications in these pathways may play a crucial role in determining the growth rates of Duroc pigs. Additionally, the study's findings align with earlier research on the importance of protein synthesis and degradation in muscle mass regulation. Skeletal muscle comprises a significant portion of total body weight and contains a large proportion of body proteins[4]. The balance between protein synthesis and degradation is influenced by various factors, including nutritional status and hormonal balance[4]. By identifying genes that are differentially expressed and methylated, the current study provides insights into how these factors may be regulated at the genetic level in Duroc pigs. Furthermore, the use of proteomics in studying muscle development and meat quality has highlighted the importance of understanding protein modifications and their impact on muscle growth[5]. The current study's approach of combining WGBS and transcriptome sequencing allows for a more comprehensive analysis of both genetic and epigenetic factors, providing a deeper understanding of the mechanisms underlying muscle development and growth in pigs. In conclusion, this study by Shandong Agricultural University advances our understanding of the genetic and epigenetic factors that influence muscle development and growth rates in Duroc pigs. By identifying key genes and pathways involved in these processes, the research provides valuable insights that could potentially be used to improve growth traits and meat quality in pigs through molecular breeding and other interventions.

GeneticsBiochemAnimal Science


Main Study

1) Integrated analysis of the DNA methylome and RNA transcriptome during the development of skeletal muscle in Duroc pigs

Published 22nd May, 2024


Related Studies

2) Lipidomic and Transcriptomic Analysis of the Longissimus Muscle of Luchuan and Duroc Pigs.


3) Identification of Differentially Expressed Genes in the Longissimus Dorsi Muscle of Luchuan and Duroc Pigs by Transcriptome Sequencing.


4) Skeletal muscle: a brief review of structure and function.


5) Skeletal muscle proteomics in livestock production.


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