Fat deposition is important to carcass value and some palatability characteristics. Carcasses with higher USDA quality grades produce more value for producers and processors in the US system and are more likely to have greater eating satisfaction. Using genomics to identify genes impacting marbling deposition provides insight into muscle biochemistry that may lead to ways to better predict fat deposition, especially marbling and thus quality grade. Hereford steers (16) were managed the same from birth through harvest after 270 days on feed. Samples were obtained for tenderness and transcriptome profiling. As expected, steaks from Choice carcasses had a lower shear force value than steaks from Select carcasses; however, steaks from Standard carcasses were not different from steaks from Choice carcasses. A significant number of differentially expressed (DE) genes was observed in the longissimus lumborum between Choice and Standard carcass RNA pools (1257 genes, p < 0.05), but not many DE genes were observed between Choice and Select RNA pools. Exploratory analysis of global muscle tissue transcriptome from Standard and Choice carcasses provided insight into muscle biochemistry, specifically the upregulation of extracellular matrix development and focal adhesion pathways and the downregulation of RNA processing and metabolism in Choice versus Standard. Additional research is needed to explore the function and timing of gene expression changes.
Keywords: beef cattle; gene expression; quality grade.