Expression of candidate genes for residual feed intake in Angus cattle

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SummaryResidual feed intake (RFI) has been adopted in Australia for the purpose of genetic improvement in feed efficiency in beef cattle. RFI is the difference between the observed feed intake of an animal and the predicted feed intake based on its size and growth rate over a test period. Gene expression of eight candidate genes (AHSG, GHR, GSTM1, INHBA, PCDH19, S100A10, SERPINI2 and SOD3), previously identified as differentially expressed between divergent lines of high- and low-RFI animals, was measured in an unselected population of 60 steers from the Angus Society Elite Progeny Test Program using quantitative real-time PCR. Results showed that the levels of gene expression were significantly correlated with RFI. The genes explain around 33.2% of the phenotypic variance in RFI, and prediction equations using the expression data are reasonably accurate estimators of RFI. The association of these genes with economically important traits, such as other feed efficiency-related traits and fat, growth and carcass traits, was investigated as well. The expression of these candidate genes was significantly correlated with feed conversion ratio and daily feed intake, which are highly associated with RFI, suggesting a functional role for these genes in modulating feed utilisation. The expression of these genes did not show any association with average daily gain, eye muscle area and carcass composition.

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