Molecular Mechanisms Regulating Skeletal Muscle Growth and Differentiation
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Solutions to meet growing domestic and world food security requirements in future decades require innovative breakthroughs in food animal sciences. Advances in production practices must come from new approaches, new ways of thinking, and new understanding of biology for development of research strategies for improving cattle health and efficiency of beef production. These concepts may require a change in direction from the paths followed in the past, particularly in genetics and genomics-based research approaches. Our biggest gains related to application of genomics technology will come from new insight into the biology mechanisms of food animals. In addition we are beginning to identify additional complexity and novelty regarding how genes are finely regulated to control important physiological processes. We intend to use these technologies to enhance the production of beef cattle.Emphasis has been placed on identifying regions of the genome that harbor genes for traits that directly impact the consumer, such as marbling and tenderness. For mapping genes associated with production efficiency and nutrient utilization, a resource population of multiple F2 families of Nellore-Angus, Brahman-Angus, and Brahman-Hereford was generated at the Research Station in McGregor, TX. DNA has been collected for all animals, and phenotype has been scored for multiple characteristics including disposition, feed intake, age at puberty, and carcass and meat traits of steers. Current work examines the role of genetic regulation on these phenotypes.In this project, we will explore gene function and regulation in physiological processes important for production of beef cattle, because evidence exists that specific genes and gene regulators control growth and fat deposition. We have investigated the importance of gene regulation on metabolic capacity in skeletal muscle from mice, and will expand these efforts for application to beef cattle.Knowledge and gene expression data generated in this project will be utilized for better understanding of genetic components important for desirable meat quality phenotypes such as tenderness and marbling. This project will also generate a new dataset documenting small RNA gene regulators that control meat quality and growth efficiency phenotypes. Undergraduate and graduate students will be trained in these methods and results will be translated for use by beef cattle producers.