Expression of insulin-like growth factor (IGF)1 and IGF2 and their receptor (IGF1R and IGF2R) mRNA in fetal skeletal muscle are changed by variations in maternal nutrient intake. The persistence of these effects into postnatal life and their association with phenotype in beef cattle is unknown. Here we report that the cross-sectional areas of longissimus dorsi and semitendinosus (ST) muscles were greater for mature male progeny born to heifers fed low protein diets (70% vs. 240% of recommended) during the first trimester. In ST, this was accompanied by greater IGF1, IGF2 and IGF2R mRNA at 680 d. Females exposed to low protein diets during the first trimester had decreased IGF2 mRNA in ST at 680 d, however this did not result in an effect to phenotype. Exposure to low protein diets during the second trimester increased IGF1R mRNA in ST of all progeny at 680 d. Changes to expression of IGF genes in progeny skeletal muscle resulting from variations to maternal protein intake during gestation may have permanent and sex-specific effect on postnatal skeletal muscle growth.
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