Ruminants consuming diets with increased concentrations of nitrate (NO3-) can accumulate nitrite (NO2-) in the blood, resulting in toxicity. In a previous experiment, ewes identified as highly tolerant to subacute dietary NO3- were able to consume greater amounts of NO3- than lowly tolerant ewes without exhibiting signs of toxicity. We hypothesized that highly tolerant and lowly tolerant ewes differ in their ability to metabolize NO3- and thereby differ in the expression of hepatic genes involved in NO3- metabolism. Therefore, our objective was to identify hepatic genes differentially expressed between ewes classified as lowly tolerant and highly tolerant after administration of a subacute quantity of dietary NO3-. Analysis of the Bovine Oligonucleotide Microarray data identified 100 oligonucleotides as differentially expressed (P < 0.05) between lowly tolerant and highly tolerant ewes. Functional analysis of the genes associated with these oligonucleotides revealed 2 response clusters of interest: metabolic and stress. Genes of interest within these 2 clusters (n = 17) and nonclustered genes with the greatest fold changes (FC; n = 5) were selected for validation by real-time reversetranscription PCR. Relative expression, genomic regulation, and FC agreed between microarray and real-time reverse-transcription-PCR analyses, and FC differences (P < 0.05) between lowly tolerant and highly tolerant ewes were confirmed for 12 genes. Metabolic genes that were downregulated (P ≤ 0.032) in lowly tolerant ewes vs. highly tolerant ewes included aldehyde oxidase 1, argininosuccinate lyase, putative steroid dehydrogenase, 6-phosphofructo-2-kinase/fructose-2,6-biphosphatase1, and sterol carrier protein 2. In contrast, the metabolic gene homeobox was upregulated (P = 0.037) in lowly tolerant ewes. The glutathione peroxidase 3 and inter-α (globulin) inhibitor H4 genes in the stress response cluster were upregulated (P ≤ 0.045) in lowly tolerant ewes. Genes with the greatest FC, but did not cluster within the functional analysis included haptoglobin, which was upregulated (P = 0.024) in lowly tolerant ewes, and fatty acid desaturase 2 and thyroid hormone responsive, both of which were downregulated (P ≤ 0.019) in lowly tolerant ewes. Results from this study indicate that hepatic gene expression differs in ewes identified as lowly tolerant and highly tolerant to increased dietary NO3-.
- Gene expression