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PLoS One. 2014 Dec 1;9(12):e114236. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0114236. eCollection 2014.

MSTN, mTOR and FoxO4 are involved in the enhancement of breast muscle growth by methionine in broilers with lower hatching weight.

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College of Animal Science and Technology, Nanjing Agricultural University, Nanjing, Jiangsu, China.


Broilers with lower hatching weight (HW) present poorer performance than those with high HW, but there is limited research on the growth regulation of broilers with lower HW. The objective of this study was to investigate the effect of dietary methionine (Met) levels on the growth performance and breast muscle yield of broilers with different HW and underlying mechanisms. A total of 192 one-day-old Arbor Acres broiler chicks with different HW (heavy: 48.3±0.1 g, and light: 41.7±0.1 g) were allocated to a 2×2 factorial arrangement with 6 replicates of 8 chicks per replicate cage. Control starter (1-21 d) and finisher (22-42 d) diets were formulated to contain 0.50% and 0.43% Met, respectively. Corresponding values for a high Met treatment were 0.60% and 0.53%. Light chicks had lower body weight gain (BWG) and breast muscle yield than heavy chicks when the broilers were fed the control diets. High Met diets improved BWG, gain to feed ratio and breast muscle yield in light but not heavy chicks. Decreased DNA content and increased RNA/DNA and protein/DNA ratios in breast muscle were induced by high Met diets only in light chicks. MSTN mRNA level was decreased by high Met diets only in light chicks, and this decrease was accompanied by a significant increase in MSTN gene exon 1 methylation. In addition, high Met diets increased mTOR phosphorylation, but decreased FoxO4 phosphorylation in breast muscle of light chicks. In conclusion, the BWG and breast muscle yield of light chicks were improved by increasing dietary Met levels probably through alterations of MSTN transcription and phosphorylation of mTOR and FoxO4.

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