Zhu, Li, Mingzhou Li, Xuewei Li, Surong Shuai, Haifeng Liu, Jinyong Wang, Anan Jiang, Yiren Gu, Kai Zhang, Xiaokun Teng, and Zhongrong Jiang. Distinct expression patterns of genes associated with muscle growth and adipose deposition in Tibetan pigs: a possible adaptive mechanism for high altitude conditions. High Alt. Med. Biol. 10:45-55, 2009.-To investigate the genetic mechanisms underlying high altitude adaptations in Tibetan pigs, changes in the expression of 140 genes associated with muscle growth and adipose deposition in the longissimus dorsi muscle were studied at various growth stages in Tibetan, Landrace, and Meishan pigs using microarray analysis. Analysis of variance (ANOVA) revealed significant differences in the expression of 13 genes (p < 0.05) and highly significant differences in the expression of 15 genes (p < 0.01) among the three pig breeds at 2 months. Differences in the expression of 7 genes were significant (p < 0.05) and differences in the expression of 10 genes were very significant (p < 0.01) in Tibetan pigs from 2 to 8 months. Tibetan pigs had significantly lower body weight than Landrace and Meishan pigs at 2 months and a larger myofiber cross-sectional area (CSA). Cluster analysis showed two significant (p < 0.01) gene expression patterns in Tibetan pigs, in addition to strong downregulation or upregulation of genes between 2 and 8 months. These results indicate that, in Tibetan pigs aged 2 to 8 months, the growth intensity of skeletal muscle is higher than that of intramuscular fat (IMF). The genes that exhibited downregulation were mainly those controlling adipose deposition, whereas the genes that were upregulated were primarily involved in adipose metabolism and skeletal muscle growth. These results are consistent with the unique genetic characteristics of Tibetan pigs, which have likely adapted to the unusual ecological conditions in high altitude areas.
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