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Transcriptional profiling identifies differentially expressed genes in developing turkey skeletal muscle

Kelly RB Sporer1, Robert J Tempelman2, Catherine W Ernst2, Kent M Reed3, Sandra G Velleman4 and Gale M Strasburg1*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition, Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan, 48824, USA

2 Department of Animal Science, Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan, 48824, USA

3 Department of Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences, University of Minnesota, St. Paul, Minnesota, 55108, USA

4 Department of Animal Sciences, The Ohio State University/Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center, Wooster, Ohio, 44691, USA

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BMC Genomics 2011, 12:143  doi:10.1186/1471-2164-12-143

Published: 8 March 2011



Skeletal muscle growth and development from embryo to adult consists of a series of carefully regulated changes in gene expression. Understanding these developmental changes in agriculturally important species is essential to the production of high quality meat products. For example, consumer demand for lean, inexpensive meat products has driven the turkey industry to unprecedented production through intensive genetic selection. However, achievements of increased body weight and muscle mass have been countered by an increased incidence of myopathies and meat quality defects. In a previous study, we developed and validated a turkey skeletal muscle-specific microarray as a tool for functional genomics studies. The goals of the current study were to utilize this microarray to elucidate functional pathways of genes responsible for key events in turkey skeletal muscle development and to compare differences in gene expression between two genetic lines of turkeys. To achieve these goals, skeletal muscle samples were collected at three critical stages in muscle development: 18d embryo (hyperplasia), 1d post-hatch (shift from myoblast-mediated growth to satellite cell-modulated growth by hypertrophy), and 16wk (market age) from two genetic lines: a randombred control line (RBC2) maintained without selection pressure, and a line (F) selected from the RBC2 line for increased 16wk body weight. Array hybridizations were performed in two experiments: Experiment 1 directly compared the developmental stages within genetic line, while Experiment 2 directly compared the two lines within each developmental stage.


A total of 3474 genes were differentially expressed (false discovery rate; FDR < 0.001) by overall effect of development, while 16 genes were differentially expressed (FDR < 0.10) by overall effect of genetic line. Ingenuity Pathways Analysis was used to group annotated genes into networks, functions, and canonical pathways. The expression of 28 genes involved in extracellular matrix regulation, cell death/apoptosis, and calcium signaling/muscle function, as well as genes with miscellaneous function was confirmed by qPCR.


The current study identified gene pathways and uncovered novel genes important in turkey muscle growth and development. Future experiments will focus further on several of these candidate genes and the expression and mechanism of action of their protein products.