Expression studies of six human obesity-related genes in seven tissues from divergent pig breeds

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SummaryObesity has reached epidemic proportions globally and has become the cause of several major health risks worldwide. Presently, more than 100 loci have been related to obesity and metabolic traits in humans by genome-wide association studies. The complex genetic architecture behind obesity has triggered a need for the development of better animal models than rodents. The pig has emerged as a very promising biomedical model to study human obesity traits. In this study, we have characterized the expression patterns of six obesity-related genes, leptin (LEP), leptin receptor (LEPR), melanocortin 4 receptor (MC4R), fat mass and obesity associated (FTO), neuronal growth regulator 1 (NEGR)1 and adiponectin (ADIPOQ), in seven obesity-relevant tissues (liver; muscle; pancreas; hypothalamus; and retroperitoneal, subcutaneous and mesenteric adipose tissues) in two pig breeds (production pigs and Göttingen minipigs) that deviate phenotypically and genetically from each other with respect to obesity traits. We observe significant differential expression for LEP, LEPR and ADIPOQ in muscle and in all three adipose tissues. Interestingly, in pancreas, LEP expression is only detected in the fat minipigs. FTO shows significant differential expression in all tissues analyzed, and NEGR1 shows significant differential expression in muscle, pancreas, hypothalamus and subcutaneous adipose tissue. The MC4R transcript can be detected only in hypothalamus. In general, the expression profiles of the investigated genes are in accordance with those observed in human studies. Our study shows that both the differences between the investigated breeds and the phenotypic state with respect to obesity/leanness play a large role for differential expression of the obesity-related genes.

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