Seasonal weight loss is the main limitation to animal production worldwide, significantly affecting the productivity of milk, meat and wool farms, particularly in drought-prone areas of the world where most of the large-scale wool production farms are located. Although the effect of nutritional status on wool quality parameters has been extensively studied, little is known on how it affects wool protein composition. Here, a proteomic approach has been applied to study changes in fiber structure and protein composition in wool from merino sheep subjected to experimentally induced weight loss. Results indicate that there is a significant reduction in the fiber diameter of wool from the animals on a restricted diet over a 42-day period. At the same time, significant increases in the expression of the high sulfur protein KAP13.1 and proteins from the high glycine-tyrosine protein KAP6 family in the wools from the animals on the restricted diet were also detected. Such findings have strong implications for the wool industry that favors finer wool. Biological significance: Seasonal weight loss caused by poor pasture availability has strong effects on wool productivity parameters and quality traits. In this work we determine that experimentally induced weight loss causes a decrease in fiber diameter associated with an increase in the level of high sulfur protein KAP13.1 and proteins from the high glycine-tyrosine protein KAP6 family. The implication of this is that decreasing the fiber diameter of the wool by this process could result in a fiber reduced prickle but with reduced wearability and appearance retention.
- High glycine-tyrosine proteins
- High sulfur proteins
- Merino sheep
- Weight loss
- Wool proteins