Phosphorylation state of pyruvate dehydrogenase and metabolite levels in turkey skeletal muscle in normal and pale, soft, exudative meats

W. A. Aljarbou, E. M. England, S. G. Velleman, K. M. Reed, G. M. Strasburg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


1. Turkey production has increased dramatically as genetic selection has succeeded in increasing body weight and muscle yield to fulfil increasing consumer demand. However, producing fast-growing, heavily muscled birds is linked to increased heat stress susceptibility and can result in pale, soft, exudative (PSE) meat. Previous studies indicated that pyruvate dehydrogenase kinase 4 (PDK4) is significantly reduced in PSE samples, suggesting this as a candidate gene associated with the development of this problem. 2. The objective of this study was to determine whether pre-market thermal challenge results in PSE meat as a result of differential expression of PDK4. Two genetic lines of turkeys were used in this study; the Randombred Control Line 2 (RBC2) and a commercial line. Turkeys were exposed to a pre-market thermal challenge of 12 h at 35°C followed by 12 h at 27°C for 5 d. Birds were slaughtered and processed according to industry standards. Pectoralis major samples were categorised as PSE or normal based on marinade uptake and cook loss indicators. In the first experiment, the relative expression of pyruvate dehydrogenase (PDH) and the phosphorylation state of PDH in normal and PSE turkey meat were analysed by western blotting. In the second experiment, the same samples were used to measure metabolite levels at 5 min post-mortem, comparing the normal to the PSE samples. 3. The results of the first experiment showed that PSE samples had significantly lower total PDH (P = 0.029) compared to normal meat. However, there was no significant difference in the degree of phosphorylation of sites 1, 2 or 3. In the second experiment, there were no significant differences in glycogen, lactate, glycolytic potential or ATP when comparing PSE to control samples. 4. These results suggested that a reduction in PDK4 expression alone does not explain the development of PSE meat.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)379-386
Number of pages8
JournalBritish Poultry Science
Issue number3
Early online dateJan 8 2021
StatePublished - Jun 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was funded in part by a grant from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), Agriculture and Food Research Initiative competitive grant 2014-67003-21812 to GMS, SVG and KMR, and by USDA/NIFA funding through the Hatch program, project number MICL02470 to GMS.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 British Poultry Science Ltd.


  • Immunoblot
  • enzymes
  • meat
  • phosphorylation
  • post-mortem metabolism


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