Phosphofructokinase and mitochondria partially explain the high ultimate pH of broiler pectoralis major muscle

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During postmortem metabolism, muscle pH gradually declines to reach an ultimate pH near 5.6 across most meat species. Yet, broiler pectoralis major (P. major) muscle generates meat with high ultimate pH (pH ˜ 5.9). For better understanding of the underlying mechanism responsible for this phenomenon, we evaluated the involvement of breast muscle chilling on the extent of postmortem metabolism. Broiler breast muscles were either subjected to chilling treatment (control) or left at room temperature (RT) for 120 min. P. major muscle from the RT treatment had lower ultimate pH, greater glycogen degradation and lactate accumulation. While these findings suggest that carcass chilling can contribute to the premature termination of postmortem metabolism, chilling did not fully explain the high ultimate pH of P. major muscle. Our results also revealed that glucose-6-phosphate (G6P) was very low at 24 h, and therefore we hypothesized that G6P was limiting. To test this hypothesis, muscle samples from P. major and porcine longissimus lumborum (LL) muscle were homogenized into a reaction buffer that mimics postmortem glycolysis with or without 0.5 mg/mL isolated mitochondria. While samples containing porcine LL muscle reached the normal level of ultimate pH, P. major muscle samples reached a value similar to that observed in vivo even in the presence of excess G6P, indicating that G6P was not limiting. Mitochondria enhanced the glycolytic flux and pH decline in systems containing muscle from both species. More importantly, however, was that in vitro system containing chicken with mitochondria reached pH value similar to that of samples containing LL muscle without mitochondria. To investigate further, phosphofructokinase (PFK) activity was compared in broiler P. major and porcine LL muscle at different pH values. PFK activity was lower in P. major muscle at pH 7, 6.5, and 6.2 than LL muscle. In conclusion, carcass chilling can partially contribute to the high ultimate pH of broiler P. major muscle, while low PFK activity and mitochondria content limit the flux through glycolysis.

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