Distinct cell proliferation, myogenic differentiation, and gene expression in skeletal muscle myoblasts of layer and broiler chickens

Sci Rep. 2019 Nov 11;9(1):16527. doi: 10.1038/s41598-019-52946-4.


Myoblasts play a central role during skeletal muscle formation and growth. Precise understanding of myoblast properties is thus indispensable for meat production. Herein, we report the cellular characteristics and gene expression profiles of primary-cultured myoblasts of layer and broiler chickens. Broiler myoblasts actively proliferated and promptly differentiated into myotubes compared to layer myoblasts, which corresponds well with the muscle phenotype of broilers. Transcriptomes of layer and broiler myoblasts during differentiation were quantified by RNA sequencing. Ontology analyses of the differentially expressed genes (DEGs) provided a series of extracellular proteins as putative markers for characterization of chicken myogenic cells. Another ontology analyses demonstrated that broiler myogenic cells are rich in cell cycle factors and muscle components. Independent of these semantic studies, principal component analysis (PCA) statistically defined two gene sets: one governing myogenic differentiation and the other segregating layers and broilers. Thirteen candidate genes were identified with a combined study of the DEGs and PCA that potentially contribute to proliferation or differentiation of chicken myoblasts. We experimentally proved that one of the candidates, enkephalin, an opioid peptide, suppresses myoblast growth. Our results present a new perspective that the opioids present in feeds may influence muscle development of domestic animals.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Differentiation / genetics*
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Chickens / genetics*
  • Computational Biology / methods
  • Gene Expression Profiling
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental*
  • Gene Ontology
  • Muscle Development / genetics*
  • Muscle, Skeletal / cytology
  • Muscle, Skeletal / metabolism*
  • Myoblasts, Skeletal / cytology
  • Myoblasts, Skeletal / metabolism*
  • Transcriptome