by Michael Oster, Eduard Murani, Cornelia C. Metges, Siriluck Ponsuksili, Klaus Wimmers
In various animal models pregnancy diets have been shown to affect offspring phenotype. Indeed, the underlying programming of development is associated with modulations in birth weight, body composition, and continual diet-dependent modifications of offspring metabolism until adulthood, producing the hypothesis that the offspring's transcriptome is permanently altered depending on maternal diet. Methodology/Principal Findings
To assess alterations of the offspring's transcriptome due to gestational protein supply, German Landrace sows were fed isoenergetic diets containing protein levels of either 30% (high protein - HP) or 12% (adequate protein - AP) throughout their pregnancy. Offspring muscle tissue (M. longissimus dorsi) was collected at 94 days post conception (dpc), and 1, 28, and 188 days post natum (dpn) for use with Affymetrix GeneChip Porcine Genome Arrays and subsequent statistical and Ingenuity pathway analyses. Numerous transcripts were found to have altered abundance at 94 dpc and 1 dpn; at 28 dpn no transcripts were altered, and at 188 dpn only a few transcripts showed a different abundance between diet groups. However, when assessing transcriptional changes across developmental time points, marked differences were obvious among the dietary groups. Depending on the gestational dietary exposure, short- and long-term effects were observed for mRNA expression of genes related to cell cycle regulation, energy metabolism, growth factor signaling pathways, and nucleic acid metabolism. In particular, the abundance of transcripts related to cell cycle remained divergent among the groups during development. Conclusion
Expression analysis indicates that maternal protein supply induced programming of the offspring's genome; early postnatal compensation of the slight growth retardation obvious at birth in HP piglets resulted, as did a permanently different developmental alteration and responsiveness to the common environment of the transcriptome. The transcriptome modulations are interpreted as the molecular equivalent of developmental plasticity of the offspring that necessitates adaptation and maintenance of the organismal phenotype.