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Physiol Genomics. 2010 Jul 7;42(2):157-67. doi: 10.1152/physiolgenomics.00029.2010. Epub 2010 Apr 6.

Transcriptional profiling of hypothalamus during development of adiposity in genetically selected fat and lean chickens.

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Department of Animal and Avian Sciences, University of Maryland, College Park, MD 20742, USA.


The hypothalamus integrates peripheral signals to regulate food intake, energy metabolism, and ultimately growth rate and body composition in vertebrates. Deviations in hypothalamic regulatory controls can lead to accumulation of excess body fat. Many regulatory genes involved in this process remain unidentified, and comparative studies may be helpful to unravel evolutionarily conserved mechanisms controlling body weight and food intake. In the present study, divergently selected fat (FL) and lean (LL) lines of chickens were used to characterize differences in hypothalamic gene expression in these unique genetic lines that develop differences in adiposity without differences in food intake or body weight. Hypothalamic transcriptional profiles were defined with cDNA microarrays before and during divergence of adiposity between the two lines. Six differentially expressed genes identified in chickens are related to genes associated with control of body fat in transgenic or knockout mice, supporting the importance of these genes across species. We identified differences in expression of nine genes involved in glucose metabolism, suggesting that alterations in hypothalamic glycolysis might contribute to differences in levels of body fat between genotypes. Expression of the sweet taste receptor (TAS1R1), which in mammals is involved in glucose sensing and energy uptake, was also higher in FL chickens, suggesting that early differences in glucose sensing might alter the set point for subsequent body composition. Differences in expression of genes associated with tumor necrosis factor (TNF) signaling were also noted. In summary, we identified alterations in transcriptional and metabolic processes within the hypothalamus that could contribute to excessive accumulation of body fat in FL chickens in the absence of differences in food intake, thereby contributing to the genetic basis for obesity in this avian model.

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