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Histological and global gene expression analysis of the ‘lactating’ pigeon crop

Gillespie, Meagan J., Haring, Volker R., McColl, Kenneth A, Monaghan, Paul, Donald, John A., Nicholas, Kevin R., Moore, Robert J. and Crowley, Tamsyn M 2011, Histological and global gene expression analysis of the ‘lactating’ pigeon crop, BMC genomics, vol. 12, no. 452, pp. 1-9.

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Title Histological and global gene expression analysis of the ‘lactating’ pigeon crop
Author(s) Gillespie, Meagan J.
Haring, Volker R.
McColl, Kenneth A
Monaghan, Paul
Donald, John A.
Nicholas, Kevin R.
Moore, Robert J.
Crowley, Tamsyn M
Journal name BMC genomics
Volume number 12
Issue number 452
Start page 1
End page 9
Total pages 9
Publisher BioMed Central Ltd
Place of publication London England
Publication date 2011-09
ISSN 1471-2164
Keyword(s) pigeons
lactation
Summary Background: Both male and female pigeons have the ability to produce a nutrient solution in their crop for the nourishment of their young. The production of the nutrient solution has been likened to lactation in mammals, and hence the product has been called pigeon ‘milk’. It has been shown that pigeon ‘milk’ is essential for growth and development of the pigeon squab, and without it they fail to thrive. Studies have investigated the nutritional value of pigeon ‘milk’ but very little else is known about what it is or how it is produced. This study aimed to gain insight into the process by studying gene expression in the ‘lactating’ crop.
Results: Macroscopic comparison of ‘lactating’ and non-’lactating’ crop reveals that the ‘lactating’ crop is enlarged and thickened with two very obvious lateral lobes that contain discrete rice-shaped pellets of pigeon ‘milk’. This was characterised histologically by an increase in the number and depth of rete pegs extending from the basal layer of the epithelium to the lamina propria, and extensive proliferation and folding of the germinal layer into the superficial epithelium. A global gene expression profile comparison between ‘lactating’ crop and non-’lactating’ crop showed that 542 genes are up-regulated in the ‘lactating’ crop, and 639 genes are down-regulated. Pathway analysis revealed that genes up-regulated in ‘lactating’ crop were involved in the proliferation of melanocytes, extracellular matrix-receptor interaction, the adherens junction and the wingless (wnt) signalling pathway. Gene ontology analysis showed that antioxidant response and microtubule transport were enriched in ‘lactating’ crop.
Conclusions: There is a hyperplastic response in the pigeon crop epithelium during ‘lactation’ that leads to localised cellular stress and expression of antioxidant protein-encoding genes. The differentiated, cornified cells that form the pigeon ‘milk’ are of keratinocyte lineage and contain triglycerides that are likely endocytosed as very low density lipoprotein (VLDL) and repackaged as triglyceride in vesicles that are transported intracellularly by microtubules. This mechanism is an interesting example of the evolution of a system with analogies to mammalian lactation, as pigeon ‘milk’ fulfils a similar function to mammalian milk, but is produced by a different mechanism.
Notes Reproduced with the kind permission of the copyright owner.
Language eng
Field of Research 060399 Evolutionary Biology not elsewhere classified
060408 Genomics
060102 Bioinformatics
Socio Economic Objective 970106 Expanding Knowledge in the Biological Sciences
HERDC Research category C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal
HERDC collection year 2011
Copyright notice ©2011, BioMed Central
Persistent URL http://hdl.handle.net/10536/DRO/DU:30045414

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Every reasonable effort has been made to ensure that permission has been obtained for items included in DRO. If you believe that your rights have been infringed by this repository, please contact drosupport@deakin.edu.au.