Identification of diverse cell populations in skeletal muscles and biomarkers for intramuscular fat of chicken by single-cell RNA sequencing

Jinghui Li, Siyuan Xing, Guiping Zhao, Maiqing Zheng, Xinting Yang, Jiahong Sun, Jie Wen, Ranran Liu*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Background: The development of skeletal muscle is closely related to the efficiency of meat production and meat quality. Chicken skeletal muscle development depends on myogenesis and adipogenesis and occurs in two phases—hyperplasia and hypertrophy. However, cell profiles corresponding to the two-phase muscle development have yet to be determined. Single-cell RNA-sequencing (scRNA-seq) can elucidate the cell subpopulations in tissue and capture the gene expression of individual cells, which can provide new insights into the myogenesis and intramuscular adipogenesis. Results: Ten cell clusters at the post-hatching developmental stage at Day 5 and seven cell clusters at the late developmental stage at Day 100 were identified in chicken breast muscles by scRNA-seq. Five myocyte-related clusters and two adipocyte clusters were identified at Day 5, and one myocyte cluster and one adipocyte cluster were identified at Day 100. The pattern of cell clustering varied between the two stages. The cell clusters showed clear boundaries at the terminal differentiation stage at Day 100; by contrast, cell differentiation was not complete at Day 5. APOA1 and COL1A1 were selected from up-regulated genes in the adipocyte cluster and found to be co-expressed with the ADIPOQ adipocyte marker gene in breast muscles by RNA in situ hybridization. Conclusions: This study is the first to describe the heterogeneity of chicken skeletal muscle at two developmental stages. The genes APOA1 and COL1A1 were identified as biomarkers for chicken intramuscular fat cells.

Original languageEnglish
Article number752
JournalBMC Genomics
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2020


  • Breast muscle
  • Cell cluster
  • Intramuscular fat
  • RNA in situ hybridization
  • scRNA-seq

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Identification of diverse cell populations in skeletal muscles and biomarkers for intramuscular fat of chicken by single-cell RNA sequencing'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this