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Journal of Animal Science Abstract - Animal Physiology

Differences in mitochondrial DNA inheritance and function align with body conformation in genetically lean and fat sheep1


This article in JAS

  1. Vol. 93 No. 5, p. 2083-2093
    Received: Nov 27, 2014
    Accepted: Mar 03, 2015
    Published: April 20, 2015

    2 Corresponding author(s):

  1. B. A. Henry 2*,
  2. R. Loughnan*,
  3. J. Hickford,
  4. I. R. Young*,
  5. J. C. St. John and
  6. I. Clarke*
  1. * Department of Physiology, Monash University, Wellington Road, Clayton, VIC 3800, Australia
     Department of Genetics, Lincoln University, Christchurch, 85084, NZ
     Centre for Genetic Diseases, MIMR-PHI Institute of Medical Research and Department of Molecular and Translational Science, Monash University, 27-31 Wright Street, Clayton, VIC 3168 Australia


Body weight and adiposity are determined by the balance between energy intake, energy expenditure, and nutrient deposition. We have identified differences in appetite-regulating peptides in sheep selectively bred to be either lean or fat, wherein gene expression for orexin and melanin-concentrating hormone are elevated in the lean group. Despite this, the underlying mechanisms leading to differences in body composition in the lean and fat lines remains unknown. We measured postprandial temperature in adipose tissue and muscle to ascertain whether a difference in thermogenesis is associated with the difference in body composition in genetically lean (n = 8) and fat (n = 12) ewes. Body weight was higher (P < 0.01) but percent fat mass was lower (P < 0.001) in the lean group. The percent lean mass was similar in lean and fat groups. Animals received intracerebroventricular cannulae and temperature probes implanted into the retroperitoneal fat and the hind-limb skeletal muscle (vastus lateralis). Animals were meal fed (1100–1600 h) to entrain postprandial thermogenesis. Food intake was similar between lean and fat animals. Postprandial thermogenesis was greater (P < 0.05) in the retroperitoneal adipose tissue of lean animals but not in skeletal muscle. Intracerebroventricular infusion of leptin reduced (P < 0.05) food intake by an equal extent in both groups. Postprandial expression of UCP1 mRNA was greater (P < 0.05) in retroperitoneal fat of lean animals, with similar UCP3 expression in skeletal muscle. Mitochondrial genome sequencing indicated haplotypic clustering in lean and fat animals within both the encoding and nonencoding regions. This demonstrates that differences in body composition may be underpinned by differences in thermogenesis, specifically within adipose tissue. Furthermore, thermogenic differences may be associated with specific mitochondrial DNA haplotypes, suggesting a strong genetic component inherited through the maternal lineage.

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