Cloning and tissue distribution of novel splice variants of the ovine ghrelin gene

Menzies, Moira, Seim, Inge, Josh, Peter, Nagaraj, Shivashankar H., Lees, Michael, Walpole, Carina, Chopin, Lisa K., Colgrave, Michelle, & Ingham, Aaron (2014) Cloning and tissue distribution of novel splice variants of the ovine ghrelin gene. BMC Veterinary Research, 10(211).

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The ghrelin axis is involved in the regulation of metabolism, energy balance, and the immune, cardiovascular and reproductive systems. The manipulation of this axis has potential for improving economically valuable traits in production animals, and polymorphisms in the ghrelin (GHRL) and ghrelin receptor (GHSR) genes have been associated with growth and carcass traits. Here we investigate the structure and expression of the ghrelin gene (GHRL) in sheep, Ovis aries.


We identify two ghrelin mRNA isoforms, which we have designated Δex2 preproghrelin and Δex2,3 preproghrelin. Expression of Δex2,3 preproghrelin is likely to be restricted to ruminants, and would encode truncated ghrelin and a novel C-terminal peptide. Both Δex2 preproghrelin and canonical preproghrelin mRNA isoforms were expressed in a range of tissues. Expression of the Δex2,3 preproghrelin isoform, however, was restricted to white blood cells (WBC; where the wild-type preproghrelin isoform is not co-expressed), and gastrointestinal tissues. Expression of Δex2 preproghrelin and Δex2,3 preproghrelin mRNA was elevated in white blood cells in response to parasitic worm (helminth) infection in genetically susceptible sheep, but not in resistant sheep.


The restricted expression of the novel preproghrelin variants and their distinct WBC expression pattern during parasite infection may indicate a novel link between the ghrelin axis and metabolic and immune function in ruminants.

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ID Code: 76528
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
Keywords: ghrelin, splice variant, sheep, endocrinology, peptide hormone
DOI: 10.1186/s12917-014-0211-x
ISSN: 1746-6148
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES (060000) > ZOOLOGY (060800) > Animal Cell and Molecular Biology (060802)
Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > AGRICULTURAL AND VETERINARY SCIENCES (070000) > VETERINARY SCIENCES (070700) > Veterinary Parasitology (070708)
Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > MEDICAL AND HEALTH SCIENCES (110000) > CLINICAL SCIENCES (110300) > Endocrinology (110306)
Divisions: Current > Schools > School of Biomedical Sciences
Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Health
Current > Institutes > Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2014 Menzies et al.; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.
Copyright Statement: This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative
Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and
reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly credited. The Creative Commons Public Domain
Dedication waiver ( applies to the data made available in this article,
unless otherwise stated.
Deposited On: 02 Oct 2014 21:43
Last Modified: 06 Oct 2014 21:10

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