RNA-Seq of Cows Milk

milkCow milk is a complex bioactive fluid consumed by humans beyond infancy. Even though the chemical and physical properties of cow milk are well characterized, very limited research has been done on characterizing the milk transcriptome. This study performs a comprehensive expression profiling of genes expressed in milk somatic cells of transition (day 15), peak (day 90) and late (day 250) lactation Holstein cows by RNA sequencing. Milk samples were collected from Holstein cows at 15, 90 and 250 days of lactation, and RNA was extracted from the pelleted milk cells. Gene expression analysis was conducted by Illumina RNA sequencing. Sequence reads were assembled and analyzed in CLC Genomics Workbench. Gene Ontology (GO) and pathway analysis were performed using the Blast2GO program and GeneGo application of MetaCore program.

The results revealed that 69% of NCBI Btau 4.0 annotated genes are expressed in bovine milk somatic cells. Most of the genes were ubiquitously expressed in all three stages of lactation. However, a fraction of the milk transcriptome has genes devoted to specific functions unique to the lactation stage. This indicates the ability of milk somatic cells to adapt to different molecular functions according to the biological need of the animal.

  • Wickramasinghe S, Rincon G, Islas-Trejo A, Medrano JF. (2012) Transcriptional profiling of bovine milk using RNA sequencing. BMC Genomics [Epub ahead of print]. [article]
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