Functional & Integrative Genomics

, Volume 10, Issue 1, pp 39–51 | Cite as

Enhanced mitochondrial complex gene function and reduced liver size may mediate improved feed efficiency of beef cattle during compensatory growth

  • Erin E. ConnorEmail author
  • Stanislaw Kahl
  • Theodore H. Elsasser
  • Joel S. Parker
  • Robert W. Li
  • Curtis P. Van Tassell
  • Ransom L. BaldwinVI
  • Scott M. Barao
Original Paper


Growing ruminants under extended dietary restriction exhibit compensatory growth upon ad libitum feeding, which is associated with increased feed efficiency, lower basal energy requirements, and changes in circulating concentrations of metabolic hormones. To identify mechanisms contributing to these physiological changes, 8-month-old steers were fed either ad libitum (control; n = 6) or 60–70% of intake of control animals (feed-restricted; n = 6) for a period of 12 weeks. All steers were fed ad libitum for the remaining 8 weeks of experimentation (realimentation). Liver was biopsied at days −14, +1, and +14 relative to realimentation for gene expression analysis by microarray hybridization. During early realimentation, feed-restricted steers exhibited greater rates of gain and feed efficiency than controls and an increase in expression of genes functioning in cellular metabolism, cholesterol biosynthesis, oxidative phosphorylation, glycolysis, and gluconeogenesis. Gene expression changes during feed restriction were similar to those reported in mice, indicating similar effects of caloric restriction across species. Based on expression of genes involved in cell division and growth and upregulation of genes encoding mitochondrial complex proteins in early realimentation, it was concluded that reduced hepatic size and increased mitochondrial function may contribute to improved feed efficiency observed during compensatory growth.


Cattle Feed efficiency Liver Microarray 



The authors thank Marsha Campbell and Dennis Hucht for their technical assistance and Roxane Macdonald, Ben Bache, Duane Taylor, George Bowman, Abraham Alignay, and the BARC Research Support Services staff for their assistance in conducting the animal portion of the study. Mention of trade names or commercial products is solely for the purpose of providing specific information and does not imply recommendation or endorsement by the US Department of Agriculture. Current affiliation of S.M. Barao is the Maryland Cattlemen's Association, 7566 Main St., Sykesville, MD 21784, USA.


The authors have no potential conflicts of interest to disclose.

Supplementary material

10142_2009_138_MOESM1_ESM.doc (28 kb)
Supplementary Table S1 Summary of bovine gene targets evaluated by quantitative real-time RT-PCR and corresponding assay performance (DOC 28 kb)
10142_2009_138_MOESM2_ESM.doc (204 kb)
Supplementary Table S2 Hepatic genes differentially expressed in feed-restricted Angus steers relative to controls at +1 day relative to realimentation (DOC 203 kb)
10142_2009_138_MOESM3_ESM.doc (66 kb)
Supplementary Table S3 Hepatic genes that were differentially expressed in both feed-restricted Angus steers relative to controls at day +1 relative to realimentation and within feed-restricted steers at day +1 versus day −14 relative to realimentation (DOC 65 kb)
10142_2009_138_MOESM4_ESM.doc (40 kb)
Supplementary Table S4 Hepatic genes that were differentially expressed in feed-restricted Angus steers relative to controls at day +14 relative to realimentation (DOC 39 kb)


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Copyright information

© US Government 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Erin E. Connor
    • 1
    Email author
  • Stanislaw Kahl
    • 1
  • Theodore H. Elsasser
    • 1
  • Joel S. Parker
    • 2
  • Robert W. Li
    • 1
  • Curtis P. Van Tassell
    • 1
  • Ransom L. BaldwinVI
    • 1
  • Scott M. Barao
    • 3
  1. 1.Beltsville Agricultural Research Center, ARSUSDABeltsvilleUSA
  2. 2.Expression Analysis, Inc.DurhamUSA
  3. 3.Department of Animal and Avian SciencesUniversity of MarylandCollege ParkUSA

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