The objective of this study was to examine five different sources of RNA, namely mammary gland tissue (MGT), milk somatic cells (SC), laser microdissected mammary epithelial cells (LCMEC), milk fat globules (MFG) and antibody-captured milk mammary epithelial cells (mMEC) to analyze the bovine mammary gland transcriptome using RNA-Sequencing. Our results provide a comparison between different sampling methods (invasive and non-invasive) to define the transcriptome of mammary gland tissue and milk cells. This information will be of value to investigators in choosing the most appropriate sampling method for different research applications to study specific physiological states during lactation. One of the simplest procedures to study the transcriptome associated with milk appears to be the isolation of total RNA directly from SC or MFG released into milk during lactation. Our results indicate that the SC and MFG transcriptome are representative of MGT and LCMEC and can be used as effective and alternative samples to study mammary gland expression without the need to perform a tissue biopsy.
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