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Correlated mRNAs and miRNAs from co-expression and regulatory networks affect porcine muscle and finally meat properties

Siriluck Ponsuksili1, Yang Du2, Frieder Hadlich1, Puntita Siengdee1, Eduard Murani2, Manfred Schwerin1 and Klaus Wimmers2*

Author Affiliations

1 Research Group ‘Functional Genome Analyses, Leibniz Institute for Farm Animal Biology (FBN), Wilhelm-Stahl-Allee 2, D-18196, Dummerstorf, Germany

2 Institute for Genome Biology, Leibniz Institute for Farm Animal Biology (FBN), Wilhelm-Stahl-Allee 2, D-18196, Dummerstorf, Germany

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BMC Genomics 2013, 14:533  doi:10.1186/1471-2164-14-533

Published: 5 August 2013



Physiological processes aiding the conversion of muscle to meat involve many genes associated with muscle structure and metabolic processes. MicroRNAs regulate networks of genes to orchestrate cellular functions, in turn regulating phenotypes.


We applied weighted gene co-expression network analysis to identify co-expression modules that correlated to meat quality phenotypes and were highly enriched for genes involved in glucose metabolism, response to wounding, mitochondrial ribosome, mitochondrion, and extracellular matrix. Negative correlation of miRNA with mRNA and target prediction were used to select transcripts out of the modules of trait-associated mRNAs to further identify those genes that are correlated with post mortem traits.


Porcine muscle co-expression transcript networks that correlated to post mortem traits were identified. The integration of miRNA and mRNA expression analyses, as well as network analysis, enabled us to interpret the differentially-regulated genes from a systems perspective. Linking co-expression networks of transcripts and hierarchically organized pairs of miRNAs and mRNAs to meat properties yields new insight into several biological pathways underlying phenotype differences. These pathways may also be diagnostic for many myopathies, which are accompanied by deficient nutrient and oxygen supply of muscle fibers.