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Epigenetic Regulation of Milk Production in Dairy Cows

JMammaryGlandBiolNeoplasia(2010)15:101?112DOI10.1007/s10911-010-9164-2

EpigeneticRegulationofMilkProductioninDairyCows

KuljeetSingh&RichardA.Erdman&KaraM.Swanson&AdrianJ.Molenaar&

NaumanJ.Maqbool&ThomasT.Wheeler&JuanA.Arias&ErinC.Quinn-Walsh&KerstStelwagen

Received:11October2009/Accepted:5January2010/Publishedonline:4February2010#SpringerScience+BusinessMedia,LLC2010

AbstractItiswellestablishedthatmilkproductionofthedairycowisafunctionofmammaryepithelialcell(MEC)numberandactivityandthatthesefactorscanbeinfluencedbydiverseenvironmentalinfluencesandmanagementpractises(nutrition,milkfrequency,photoperiod,udderhealth,hormonalandlocaleffectors).Thus,understandinghowthemammaryglandisabletorespondtotheseenvironmentalcuesprovidesahugepotentialtoenhancemilkproductionofthedairycow.InrecentyearsourunderstandingofmoleculareventswithintheMECunder-lyingbovinelactationhasbeenadvancedthroughmamma-rymicroarraystudiesandwillbefurtheradvancedthroughtherecentavailabilityofthebovinegenomesequence.Inaddition,thepotentialofepigeneticregulation(non-sequenceinheritablechemicalchangesinchromatin,suchasDNAmethylationandhistonemodifications,whichaffectgeneexpression)tomanipulatemammaryfunctionisemerging.Weproposethatasubstantialproportionofunexplainedphenotypicvariationinthedairycowisduetoepigeneticregulation.Heritabilityofepigeneticmarksalsohighlightsthepotentialtomodifylactationperformanceofoffspring.UnderstandingtheresponseoftheMEC(cell

K.Singh(*)K.M.SwansonA.J.MolenaarN.J.MaqboolT.T.Wheeler:K.Stelwagen

AgResearchLtd.,RuakuraResearchCentre,Hamilton3240,NewZealand

e-mail:[email protected]

DepartmentofAnimalandAvianSciences,UniversityofMaryland,

CollegePark,MD20742,USAJ.A.Arias:E.C.Quinn-WalshLIC,

Hamilton3240,NewZealand

signalingpathwaysandepigeneticmechanisms)toexternalstimuliwillbeanimportantprerequisitetodevisingnewtechnologiesformaximisingtheiractivityand,hence,milkproductioninthedairycow.KeywordsBovine.Mammarygland.Epigeneticregulation.Milkproduction

Abbreviations

CoRECompositeresponseelementsCpGCytosine?phosphate?guanineECMExtra-cellularmatrixKbpKilobasepairs

MECMammaryepithelialcell(s)

STATSignaltransducerandactivatoroftranscription

Introduction

Milknotonlyprovidesacompletedietfortheneonate,italsosuppliesessentialimmunefactorsnecessaryforthesurvivaloftheyoung.Asaresultofimprovedgenetics,selectionandmanagement,themoderndairycowproducesmilkfarinexcessofthatrequiredtofeeditsoffspring,allowingmilktobeahighlyvaluablecommercialcom-modity.Abetterunderstandingoftheregulationofmilkproductioninthedairycowwillfacilitatestrategiestooptimizeproductionanddriveprofitabilityofthedairyindustry.

Atacellularlevelmilkproductionisultimatelyafunctionofthenumberofmammaryepithelialcells(MEC)andthesecretoryactivityofeachMEC,withcorrelationsbetweenthenumberofMECandmilkproductionrangingfrom0.50through0.85[1].Mammo-

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