Prehatch intestinal maturation of turkey embryos demonstrated through gene expression patterns

J. E. de Oliveira, S. Druyan, Z. Uni, C. M. Ashwell, P. R. Ferket

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


Some of the challenges faced by neonatal turkeys include weakness, reduced feed intake, impaired growth, susceptibility to disease, and mortality. These symptoms may be due to depleted energy reserves after hatch and an immature digestive system unable to replenish energy reserves from consumed feed. To better understand enteric development in turkeys just before hatch, a new method was used to identify the patterns of intestinal gene expression by utilizing a focused microarray. The duodenums of 24 turkey embryos were sampled on embryonic day (E)20, E24, E26, and hatch (E28). The RNA populations of 96 chosen genes were measured at each time point, from which 81 significantly changed (P < 0.01). These genes were clustered by gene expression pattern similarity into 4 groups. The expression pattern of hormone receptors revealed that intestinal tissues may be less responsive to growth hormone, insulin, glucagon, and triiodothyronine during the last 48 h before hatch, when developmental emphasis switches from cell proliferation to functional maturation. Based on gene expression patterns, we concluded that at hatch, poults should have the capacity to 1) digest disaccharides but not oligopeptides, due to increased expression of sucrase-isomaltase but decreased expression of aminopeptidases and 2) absorb monosaccharides and small peptides due to high expression of sodium-glucose cotransporter-4 and peptide transporter-1.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)2600-2609
Number of pages10
JournalPoultry Science
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2009

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported by Embrex Inc. (Durham, NC) through the USDA Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase II grant 2005-33610-16491, September 15, 2005 to September 14, 2007.


  • Gene expression
  • Intestinal development
  • Microarray
  • Turkey embryo


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