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J Anim Sci. 2008 Apr;86(4):795-803. Epub 2007 Dec 21.

Relationship between myosin heavy chain isoform expression and muscling in several diverse pig breeds.

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Research Institute for the Biology of Farm Animals, Wilhelm-Stahl-Allee 2, 18196 Dummerstorf, Germany.


The objective of this study was to examine the relationship of the relative abundance of transcripts of myosin heavy chain (MyHC) isoforms and muscling in several diverse pig breeds. The animals used were from 3 pure breeds (Pietrain, Duroc, and Mongcai) and 2 crosses [Duroc x Pietrain (DUPI) and Duroc x Berlin Miniature pigs (DUMI)]. Real-time PCR quantification of MyHC isoforms I, IIa, IIx, and IIb showed that the relative expression of MyHC IIb was greater in pigs with large LM areas in both DUPI (69.6 vs. 53.0%) and DUMI (60.5 vs. 47.5%). In DUPI, similar transcript levels of MyHC I were found in both large and small LM (14.7 and 15.2%), whereas in DUMI animals, these values were 18.4 and 33.5% (P < 0.05). The groups of animals with large and small LM area in the DUPI also tended to differ in MyHC IIa and IIx transcripts. The comparison among different breeds confirmed the trend of high MyHC IIb transcript abundance together with high muscularity. In Pietrain, Duroc, DUPI, and DUMI, MyHC IIb accounted for more than half of the MyHC transcripts (65.4, 59.7, 54.0, and 54.0%). Mongcai showed low MyHC IIb (11.4%) but high type I, IIa, and IIx relative RNA levels (24.1, 28.5, and 35.9%). Frequencies of fibers, determined by muscle fiber staining with ATPase, and relative abundance of MyHC isoforms, determined by quantitative reverse transcription-PCR, of corresponding pairs of type I, IIa, and IIx/ IIb were correlated (r = 0.71, 0.67, and 0.52, respectively). The study demonstrates that MyHC IIb fibers are the most prominent in pigs having large LM area and implies that MyHC IIb is the determining fiber contributing to the differentiation of large and small loin eye muscle area in the pig.

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