Yolk sac carbohydrate levels and gene expression of key gluconeogenic and glycogenic enzymes during chick embryonic development

L. Yadgary, Z. Uni*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

49 Scopus citations


Glycogen and glucose concentrations (mg/g of tissue) and amounts (mg) were determined in the yolks of fertile eggs on the day of set and in the yolk sac (YS) and liver of broiler chick embryos between 11 and 21 embryonic days of age (E). On the day of set, the yolk contained 50 mg of glucose (0.31% of yolk) but did not contain glycogen. During incubation, the amount of glucose in the YS increased from 20 mg on E11 to 60 mg on E19. A parallel increase in YS and liver glycogen concentrations (mg/g) during the last week of incubation implied a similar capacity for glycogen synthesis per gram of tissue. However, due to its larger size, the YS capacity for glycogen storage far exceeded that of the liver, which stored less than 12 mg of glycogen up to E19, as compared with more than 200 mg in the YS. Between E19 and 21, liver and YS glycogen amounts decreased by 10 mg and 100 mg, respectively. These results indicated that the YS is a glycogenic and perhaps gluconeogenic organ. We therefore evaluated the gene expression of glycogen synthase and glycogen phosphorylase as well as gluconeogenic enzymes (fructose 1,6-bisphosphatase, phosphoenolpyruvate carboxykinase, and glucose 6-phosphatase) in the YS membrane and liver by real-time reverse-transcription PCR. Although the YS membrane and liver displayed different patterns of mRNA abundance, the high abundance of fructose 1,6-bisphosphatase mRNA in the YS membrane between E11 and 15, and the expression of phosphoenolpyruvate carboxykinase and glucose 6-phosphatase, supported the postulated gluconeogenic abilities of the YS membrane and indicated its role in providing glucose to the embryo. Thus, glucose is probably synthesized in the YS, stored in the form of glycogen, and toward hatch, the YS may have the potential to transfer 10 times more glycogen-derived glucose to the embryo as compared with the liver. As such, the YS may play a major role in the synthesis and storage of glucose and its supply to the chick embryo toward hatch.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)444-453
Number of pages10
JournalPoultry Science
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2012


  • Chick embryo
  • Gene expression
  • Gluconeogenesis
  • Glycogen
  • Yolk sac


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