Early in porcine adipose tissue development, the stromal-vascular (SV) elements control and dictate the extent of adipogenesis in a depot-dependent manner. The vasculature and collagen matrix differentiate before overt adipocyte differentiation. In the fetal pig, subcutaneous (SQ) layer development is predictive of adipocyte development, as the outer, middle, and inner layers of dorsal SQ adipose tissue develop and maintain layered morphology throughout postnatal growth of SQ adipose tissue. Bovine and ovine fetuses contain brown adipose tissue but SQ white adipose tissue is poorly developed structurally. Fetal adipose tissue differentiation is associated with the precocious expression of several genes encoding secreted factors and key transcription factors like peroxisome proliferator activated receptor (PPAR)γ and CCAAT/-enhancer-binding protein. Identification of adipocyte-associated genes differentially expressed by age, depot, and species in vivo and in vitro has been achieved using single-gene analysis, microarrays, suppressive subtraction hybridization, and next-generation sequencing applications. Gene polymorphisms in PPARγ, cathepsins, and uncoupling protein 3 have been associated with back fat accumulation. Genome scans have mapped several quantitative trait loci (QTL) predictive of adipose tissue–deposition phenotypes in cattle and pigs.


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  • Article Type: Review Article
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