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Genes 2019, 10(4), 272;

Delayed Feeding Alters Transcriptional and Post-Transcriptional Regulation of Hepatic Metabolic Pathways in Peri-Hatch Broiler Chicks

Department of Animal Science, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC 27607, USA
Department of Animal and Avian Sciences, University of Maryland, College Park, MD 20742, USA
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 20 February 2019 / Revised: 19 March 2019 / Accepted: 1 April 2019 / Published: 3 April 2019
(This article belongs to the Section Animal Genetics and Genomics)
PDF [1108 KB, uploaded 3 April 2019]


Hepatic fatty acid oxidation of yolk lipoproteins provides the main energy source for chick embryos. Post-hatching these yolk lipids are rapidly exhausted and metabolism switches to a carbohydrate-based energy source. We recently demonstrated that many microRNAs (miRNAs) are key regulators of hepatic metabolic pathways during this metabolic switching. MiRNAs are small non-coding RNAs that post-transcriptionally regulate gene expression in most eukaryotes. To further elucidate the roles of miRNAs in the metabolic switch, we used delayed feeding for 48 h to impede the hepatic metabolic switch. We found that hepatic expression of several miRNAs including miR-33, miR-20b, miR-34a, and miR-454 was affected by delaying feed consumption for 48 h. For example, we found that delayed feeding resulted in increased miR-20b expression and conversely reduced expression of its target FADS1, an enzyme involved in fatty acid synthesis. Interestingly, the expression of a previously identified miR-20b regulator FOXO3 was also higher in delayed fed chicks. FOXO3 also functions in protection of cells from oxidative stress. Delayed fed chicks also had much higher levels of plasma ketone bodies than their normal fed counterparts. This suggests that delayed fed chicks rely almost exclusively on lipid oxidation for energy production and are likely under higher oxidative stress. Thus, it is possible that FOXO3 may function to both limit lipogenesis as well as to help protect against oxidative stress in peri-hatch chicks until the initiation of feed consumption. This is further supported by evidence that the FOXO3-regulated histone deacetylase (HDAC2) was found to recognize the FASN (involved in fatty acid synthesis) chicken promoter in a yeast one-hybrid assay. Expression of FASN mRNA was lower in delayed fed chicks until feed consumption. The present study demonstrated that many transcriptional and post-transcriptional mechanisms, including miRNA, form a complex interconnected regulatory network that is involved in controlling lipid and glucose molecular pathways during the metabolic transition in peri-hatch chicks.
Keywords: chicken; metabolic switch; microRNA chicken; metabolic switch; microRNA
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).

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Hicks, J.A.; Porter, T.E.; Sunny, N.E.; Liu, H.-C. Delayed Feeding Alters Transcriptional and Post-Transcriptional Regulation of Hepatic Metabolic Pathways in Peri-Hatch Broiler Chicks. Genes 2019, 10, 272.

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