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The effects of gender and muscle type on the mRNA levels of the calpain proteolytic system and beef tenderness during post-mortem aging

Lookup NU author(s): Hunke Mberema, Professor Georg Lietz, Professor Ilias Kyriazakis



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License (CC BY-NC-ND).


The objective of this study was to determine the effects of gender and muscle type on the mRNA levels of the calpain system and the tenderization of beef meat. The Longissimus thoracis (LT) and the Semimembranosus (SM) were sampled from each bull, steer and heifer after routine slaughter (Six animals per group). The mRNA levels of µ-calpain, m-calpain, calpain-3 and calpastatin were quantified using real-time PCR. Concurrently, tenderness was determined following the Warner–Bratzler Shearforce (WBSF) procedure and rate of tenderization during post-mortem storage was calculated from the WBSF values of 7d and 35d aged steaks. The results show that bulls had significantly lower (P<0.01) WBSF values than heifers which were accompanied by higher (P<0.01) levels of µ-calpain and calpain-3 mRNA but similar levels of calpastatin as compared to heifers. There was a significantly higher (P<0.05) calpastatin expression in steers, as compared to heifers. However, µ-calpain expression was lower (P<0.05) in heifers whose meat was significantly tougher (P<0.05) than that of steers. Steer meat was slightly tougher than that of bulls, while steers had had a tendency to express higher levels of calpastatin but similar µ-calpain and calpain-3 mRNA. The LT had lower (P<0.05) WBSF values than the SM but these muscles tenderised at the same rate, and had similar mRNA levels for all investigated genes. M-calpain mRNA levels were not significantly affected by muscle and gender (P>0.05). Moreover, calpain 3 was negatively correlated to 7d WBSF values (P<0.05). Despite the small sample size, these results suggest that variations in beef tenderness could be modulated through the differential expression of the members of the calpain system, specifically, µ-calpain, calpain 3 and calpastatin.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Mberama CHH, Lietz G, Kyriazakis I

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Livestock Science

Year: 2016

Volume: 185

Pages: 123-130

Print publication date: 01/03/2016

Online publication date: 26/01/2015

Acceptance date: 25/01/2016

Date deposited: 08/04/2016

ISSN (print): 1871-1413

Publisher: Elsevier


DOI: 10.1016/j.livsci.2016.01.020


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Funder referenceFunder name
NACS-2008-240Commonwealth Scholarship Commission in the United Kingdom