Effect of photoperiod on the feline adipose transcriptome as assessed by RNA sequencing

Akihiro Mori, Kelly L. Kappen, Anna C. Dilger, Kelly S. Swanson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Photoperiod is known to cause physiological changes in seasonal mammals, including changes in body weight, physical activity, reproductive status, and adipose tissue gene expression in several species. The objective of this study was to determine the effects of day length on the adipose transcriptome of cats as assessed by RNA sequencing. Ten healthy adult neutered male domestic shorthair cats were used in a randomized crossover design study. During two 12-wk periods, cats were exposed to either short days (8 hr light:16 hr dark) or long days (16 hr light:8 hr dark). Cats were fed a commercial diet to maintain baseline body weight to avoid weight-related bias. Subcutaneous adipose biopsies were collected at wk 12 of each period for RNA isolation and sequencing.Results: A total of 578 million sequences (28.9 million/sample) were generated by Illumina sequencing. A total of 170 mRNA transcripts were differentially expressed between short day- and long day-housed cats. 89 annotated transcripts were up-regulated by short days, while 24 annotated transcripts were down-regulated by short days. Another 57 un-annotated transcripts were also different between groups. Adipose tissue of short day-housed cats had greater expression of genes involved with cell growth and differentiation (e.g., myostatin; frizzled-related protein), cell development and structure (e.g., cytokeratins), and protein processing and ubiquitination (e.g., kelch-like proteins). In contrast, short day-housed cats had decreased expression of genes involved with immune function (e.g., plasminogen activator inhibitor 1; chemokine (C-C motif) ligand 2; C-C motif chemokine 5; T-cell activators), and altered expression of genes associated with carbohydrate and lipid metabolism.Conclusions: Collectively, these gene expression changes suggest that short day housing may promote adipogenesis, minimize inflammation and oxidative stress, and alter nutrient metabolism in feline adipose tissue, even when fed to maintain body weight. Although this study has highlighted molecular mechanisms contributing to the seasonal metabolic changes observed in cats, future research that specifically targets and studies these biological pathways, and the physiological outcomes that are affected by them, is justified.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number146
JournalBMC Veterinary Research
StatePublished - Jul 3 2014


  • Adipose tissue
  • Cat
  • Gene expression
  • RNA-seq
  • Transcriptomics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • veterinary(all)


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