Differential gene expression in the duodenum, jejunum and ileum among crossbred beef steers with divergent gain and feed intake phenotypes

A. K. Lindholm-Perry, A. R. Butler, R. J. Kern, R. Hill, L. A. Kuehn, J. E. Wells, W. T. Oliver, K. E. Hales, A. P. Foote, H. C. Freetly

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25 Scopus citations


Small intestine mass and cellularity were previously associated with cattle feed efficiency. The small intestine is responsible for the digestion of nutrients and absorption of fatty acids, amino acids and carbohydrates, and it contributes to the overall feed efficiency of cattle. The objective of this study was to evaluate transcriptome differences among the small intestine from cattle with divergent gain and feed intake. Animals most divergent from the bivariate mean in each of the four phenotypic Cartesian quadrants for gain × intake were selected, and the transcriptomes of duodenum, jejunum and ileum were evaluated. Gene expression analyses were performed comparing high gain vs. low gain animals, high intake vs. low intake animals and each of the phenotypic quadrants to all other groups. Genes differentially expressed within the high gain-low intake and low gain-high intake groups of animals included those involved in immune function and inflammation in all small intestine sections. The high gain-high intake group differed from the high gain-low intake group by immune response genes in all sections of the small intestine. In all sections of small intestine, animals with low gain-low intake displayed greater abundance of heat-shock genes compared to other groups. Several over-represented pathways were identified. These include the antigen-processing/presentation pathway in high gain animals and PPAR signaling, starch/sucrose metabolism, retinol metabolism and melatonin degradation pathways in the high intake animals. Genes with functions in immune response, inflammation, stress response, influenza pathogenesis and melatonin degradation pathways may have a relationship with gain and intake in beef steers.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)408-427
Number of pages20
JournalAnimal Genetics
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 1 2016


  • cattle
  • immune response
  • small intestine
  • stress response
  • transcriptome


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