The effects of breed and level of nutrition on whole-body and muscle protein metabolism in pure-bred Aberdeen Angus and Charolais beef steers.
18 pure-bred steers (liveweight 350 kg) from each of 2 breeds, Aberdeen Angus (AA) and Charolais (CH), were split into 3 groups and offered 3 planes of nutrition during a 20-week period. The same ration formulation was offered to all animals with amounts adjusted at 3-week intervals to give predicted average weight gains of either 1.0 kg/day (M/M group) or 1.4 kg/day (H/H group). The remaining group (M/H) were offered the same amount of ration as the M/M group until 10 weeks before slaughter when the ration was increased to H. Data on animal performance, carcass characteristics and fibre-type composition in skeletal muscle are presented elsewhere (Maltin et al. 2000; Sinclair et al. 2000). On 3 occasions (17, 10 and 2 weeks before slaughter) the animals were transferred to metabolism stalls for 1 week, during which total urine collection for quantification of Nτ-methylhistidine (Nτ-MeH) elimination was performed for 4 days. On the last day, animals were infused for 11 h with [2H5]phenylalanine with frequent blood sampling (to allow determination of whole-body phenylalanine flux) followed by biopsies from m. longissimus lumborum and m. vastus lateralis to determine the fractional synthesis rate of mixed muscle protein. For both breeds, the absolute amount of Nτ-MeH eliminated increased with animal age or weight (P<0.001) and was significantly greater for CH steers, at all intake comparisons, than for AA (P<0.001). Estimates of fractional muscle breakdown rate (FBR; calculated from Nτ-MeH elimination and based on skeletal muscle as a fixed fraction of liveweight) showed an age (or weight) decline for M/M and H/H groups of both breeds (P<0.001). FBR was greater for the H/H group (P=0.044). The M/H group also showed a lower FBR for the first 2 measurement periods (both at M intake) but increased when intake was raised to H. When allowance was made for differences in lean content (calculated from fat scores and eye muscle area in carcasses at the end of period 3), there were significant differences in muscle FBR with intake (P=0.012) but not between breed. Whole-body protein flux (WBPF; g/d) based on plasma phenylalanine kinetics increased with age or weight (P<0.001) and was similar between breeds. The WBPF was lower for M/M compared with H/H (P<0.001) based on either total or per kg liveweight0.75. Muscle protein fractional synthesis rate (FSR) declined with age for both breeds and tended to be higher at H/H compared with M intakes (intake×period effects, P<0.05). Changing intake from M to H caused a significant increase (P<0.001) in FSR. The FSR values for AA were significantly greater than for CH at comparable ages (P=0.044). Although FSR and FBR responded to nutrition, these changes in protein metabolism were not reflected in differences in meat eating quality (Sinclair et al. 2000).