Milk fatty acid (FA) composition is associated with the nutritional value of milk and is known to vary with the stage of lactation. Although biochemical aspects controlling FA metabolism in the bovine mammary gland are well-established, less is known about the underlying molecular mechanisms. Thus, to address some of these shortcomings, the present study sought to evaluate milk FA composition and mammary transcriptome profiles at different stages of lactation. Compared with 90 d of lactation, at 315 d of lactation, there was an increase in the concentrations of C18:2, polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA), and short-chain fatty acids (SCFA), and a decrease in C16:0 and long-chain fatty acids (LCFA) in milk. To further identify candidate genes and pathways responsible for these phenotypic differences, the transcriptome of bovine mammary tissue at 90 d (peak) and 315 d (late) of lactation was profiled using RNA-seq. A total of 827 differentially expressed genes were identified. Bioinformatic analysis revealed that the major differentially modulated lipid metabolic pathways were the PPAR signaling pathway, alpha-linolenic acid metabolism and linoleic acid metabolism. Compared with peak lactation, the mammary tissue at late lactation had lower abundance of genes related to FA transport and activation (CD36, SLC27A6, ACSM1, FABP3 and FABP4). Thus, to further explore the role of FA transport into mammary cells, we knocked down fatty acid transport protein 6 (solute carrier family 27 member 6, SLC27A6) in the bovine mammary epithelial cells (BMECs) using siRNA. The knockdown of SLC27A6 dramatically downregulated the mRNA abundance of genes associated with FA activation (ACSL4), oxidation (CPT1A) and transport (CD36), while the abundance of genes associated with transcription regulation (PPARG), diacylglycerol acyltransferase 1 (DGAT1), FA binding (FABP3), and desaturation (FADS2) was upregulated. In addition, SLC27A6 silenced the intracellular content of triglyceride (TG) and the percentage of C18:1cis9 and C20:4cis5,8,11,14 was greater, whereas that of C16:0 and C18:0 was lower. Overall, in vivo results indicated that LCFA transport into mammary cells during late lactation partly explains the difference in the FA profiles. In vitro analyses underscored how FA transport via SLC27A6 could dictate in part the intracellular utilization of FA for TG synthesis versus oxidation. The data provide strong support for a central role of SLC27A6 in the regulation of FA metabolism in BMECs.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Food Science