Molecular Genetics and Genomics

, Volume 294, Issue 2, pp 395–408 | Cite as

Transcriptome analysis of adipose tissue from pigs divergent in feed efficiency reveals alteration in gene networks related to adipose growth, lipid metabolism, extracellular matrix, and immune response

  • Justyna Horodyska
  • Henry Reyer
  • Klaus Wimmers
  • Nares Trakooljul
  • Peadar G. Lawlor
  • Ruth M. HamillEmail author
Original Article


Adipose tissue is hypothesized to play a vital role in regulation of feed efficiency (FE; efficiency in converting energy and nutrients into tissue), of which improvement will simultaneously reduce environmental impact and feed cost per pig. The objective of the present study was to sequence the subcutaneous adipose tissue transcriptome in FE-divergent pigs (n = 16) and identify relevant biological processes underpinning observed differences in FE. We previously demonstrated that high-FE pigs were associated with lower fatness when compared to their counterparts. Here, ontology analysis of a total of 209 annotated genes that were differentially expressed at a p < 0.01 revealed establishment of a dense extracellular matrix and inhibition of capillary formation as one underlying mechanism to achieve suppressed adipogenesis. Moreover, mechanisms ensuring an efficient utilization of lipids in high-FE pigs might be orchestrated by upstream regulators including CEBPA and EGF. Consequently, high-FE adipose tissue could exhibit more efficient cholesterol disposal, whilst inhibition of inflammatory and immune response in high-FE pigs may be an indicator of an optimally functioning adipose tissue. Taken together, adipose tissue growth, extracellular matrix formation, lipid metabolism and inflammatory and immune response are key biological events underpinning the differences in FE. Further investigations focusing on elucidating these processes would assist the animal production industry in optimizing strategies related to nutrient utilization and product quality.


FE RFI Residual feed intake Gene expression Transcriptomics 



Feed efficiency


Residual feed intake




High RFI






Author contributions

JH collected samples, extracted RNA, prepared libraries, validated RNA-seq via qPCR, carried out data analysis and wrote the manuscript; HR participated in statistical analysis and edited the manuscript; KW contributed to experimental design, established lab protocols and edited the manuscript; NT assisted in library preparation, performed RNA-seq and data analysis, and edited the manuscript; PGL provided and screened the animals on RFI, participated in data collection and analysis, and edited the manuscript; RMH conceived the experiment and contributed to experimental design, collected samples and edited the manuscript.


The ECO-FCE project was funded by the European Union Seventh Framework Programme (FP7 2007/2013) under grant agreement No. 311794.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no competing interests.

Ethical approval

Animal care, slaughter and tissue collection of the animals used in this study were performed in compliance with national regulations related to animal research and commercial slaughtering and were approved by the Teagasc Animal Ethics Committee.

Supplementary material

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Supplementary material 1 (PDF 129 KB)
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Supplementary material 2 (PDF 232 KB)
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Supplementary material 3 (PDF 29 KB)
438_2018_1515_MOESM4_ESM.pdf (105 kb)
Supplementary material 4 (PDF 104 KB)
438_2018_1515_MOESM5_ESM.pdf (22 kb)
Supplementary material 5 (PDF 22 KB)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Teagasc, Food Research CentreDublin 15Ireland
  2. 2.Leibniz Institute for Farm Animal Biology (FBN), Institute for Genome BiologyDummerstorfGermany
  3. 3.Faculty of Agricultural and Environmental SciencesUniversity RostockRostockGermany
  4. 4.Teagasc, Pig Development Department, AGRICFermoyIreland

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