Open Access Research article

Transcriptome profiling of the feeding-to-fasting transition in chicken liver

Colette Désert12, Michel J Duclos3, Pierre Blavy12, Frédéric Lecerf12, François Moreews4, Christophe Klopp5, Marc Aubry6, Frédéric Herault12, Pascale Le Roy12, Cécile Berri3, Madeleine Douaire12, Christian Diot12 and Sandrine Lagarrigue12*

Author Affiliations

1 INRA, UMR 598, Génétique Animale, F-35000 Rennes, France

2 Agrocampus Ouest, UMR 598, Génétique Animale, F-35000 Rennes, France

3 INRA, UR83, Station de Recherches Avicoles, F-37380 Nouzilly, France

4 INRA, SIGENAE, F-35000 Rennes, France

5 INRA, SIGENAE, F-31000 Toulouse, France

6 Plateforme Transcriptome OUEST-genopole Rennes, F-35000 Rennes, France

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BMC Genomics 2008, 9:611  doi:10.1186/1471-2164-9-611

Published: 17 December 2008



Starvation triggers a complex array of adaptative metabolic responses including energy-metabolic responses, a process which must imply tissue specific alterations in gene expression and in which the liver plays a central role. The present study aimed to describe the evolution of global gene expression profiles in liver of 4-week-old male chickens during a 48 h fasting period using a chicken 20 K oligoarray.


A large number of genes were modulated by fasting (3532 genes with a pvalue corrected by Benjamini-Hochberg < 0.01); 2062 showed an amplitude of variation higher than +/- 40% among those, 1162 presented an human ortholog, allowing to collect functional information. Notably more genes were down-regulated than up-regulated, whatever the duration of fasting (16 h or 48 h). The number of genes differentially expressed after 48 h of fasting was 3.5-fold higher than after 16 h of fasting. Four clusters of co-expressed genes were identified by a hierarchical cluster analysis. Gene Ontology, KEGG and Ingenuity databases were then used to identify the metabolic processes associated to each cluster. After 16 h of fasting, genes involved in ketogenesis, gluconeogenesis and mitochondrial or peroxisomal fatty acid beta-oxidation, were up-regulated (cluster-1) whereas genes involved in fatty acid and cholesterol synthesis were down-regulated (cluster-2). For all genes tested, the microarray data was confirmed by quantitative RT-PCR. Most genes were altered by fasting as already reported in mammals. A notable exception was the HMG-CoA synthase 1 gene, which was up-regulated following 16 and 48 h of fasting while the other genes involved in cholesterol metabolism were down-regulated as reported in mammalian studies. We further focused on genes not represented on the microarray and candidates for the regulation of the target genes belonging to cluster-1 and -2 and involved in lipid metabolism. Data are provided concerning PPARa, SREBP1, SREBP2, NR1H3 transcription factors and two desaturases (FADS1, FADS2).


This study evidences numerous genes altered by starvation in chickens and suggests a global repression of cellular activity in response to this stressor. The central role of lipid and acetyl-CoA metabolisms and its regulation at transcriptional level are confirmed in chicken liver in response to short-term fasting. Interesting expression modulations were observed for NR1H3, FADS1 and FADS2 genes. Further studies are needed to precise their role in the complex regulatory network controlling lipid metabolism.