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Transcriptional regulators transforming growth factor-β1 and estrogen-related receptor-α identified as putative mediators of calf rumen epithelial tissue development and function during weaning1

E.E. Connor, R.L. Baldwin, M.P. Walker, S.E. Ellis, C. Li, S. Kahl, H. Chung, R.W. Li
Journal of dairy science 2014 v.97 no.7 pp. 4193-4207
Holstein, butyrates, calves, cell cycle, cows, diet, energy metabolism, gene expression, gene expression regulation, genes, grass hay, insulin, insulin-like growth factor I, messenger RNA, microarray technology, milk replacer, parturition, protein synthesis, receptors, rumen development, rumen epithelium, transcription (genetics), weaning
Molecular mechanisms regulating rumen epithelial development remain largely unknown. To identify gene networks and regulatory factors controlling rumen development, Holstein bull calves (n=18) were fed milk replacer only (MRO) until 42d of age. Three calves each were euthanized at 14 and 42d of age for tissue collection to represent preweaning, and the remaining calves were provided diets of either milk replacer + orchard grass hay (MH; n=6) to initiate weaning without development of rumen papillae, or milk replacer + calf starter (MG; n=6) to initiate weaning and development of rumen papillae. At 56 and 70d of age, 3 calves from the MH and MG groups were euthanized for collection of rumen epithelium. Total RNA and protein were extracted for microarray analysis and to validate detected changes in selected protein expression, respectively. As expected, calves fed MRO had no rumen papillae and development of papillae was greater in MG versus MH calves. Differentially expressed genes between the MRO diet at d 42 (preweaning) versus the MG or MH diets at d 56 (during weaning) were identified using permutation analysis of differential expression. Expression of 345 and 519 transcripts was uniquely responsive to MG and MH feeding, respectively. Ingenuity Pathway Analysis (Qiagen, Redwood City, CA) indicated that the top-ranked biological function affected by the MG diet was the cell cycle, and TFGB1, FBOX01, and PPARA were identified as key transcriptional regulators of genes responsive to the MG diet and associated with development of rumen papillae. Increased expressions of TGFB1 mRNA and protein in response to the MG diet were confirmed by subsequent analyses. The top-ranking biological function affected by the MH diet was energy production. Receptors for IGF-1 and insulin, ESRRA, and PPARD were identified by ingenuity pathway analysis as transcriptional regulators of genes responsive to the MH diet. Further analysis of TGFB1 and ESRRA mRNA expression in rumen epithelium obtained from a separate ontogenic study of Holstein calves (n=26) euthanized every 7d from birth to 42d of age showed increases in transcript expression with advancing age, supporting their roles in mediating rumen epithelial development and function during weaning. Additional evaluation of gene expression in the rumen epithelium of adult cows ruminally infused with butyrate also suggested that observed changes in ESRRA mRNA expression in developing calf rumen may be mediated by increased butyrate concentration. Our results identify TGFB1 and ESRRA as likely transcriptional regulators of rumen epithelial development and energy metabolism, respectively, and provide targets for modulation of rumen development and function in the growing calf.