Virginia Tech™home

Eric Wong

3150 Litton Reaves Hall

Postdoctoral, Biology, 1981-1986, University of Utah

Ph.D., Biology, 1981, University of California, San Diego

B.S., Biology, 1976, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Courses Taught

• ALS/Biol 2404  Biotechnology in a Global Society

• ALS 3104  Animal Breeding and Genetics

• APSC/PPWS 5044  Biotechnology in Agriculture and Society

The chick derives its nutrients from the yolk during embryogenesis and feed in the intestine post-hatch.  Both the yolk sac and the intestinal villi contain absorptive cells that mediate the uptake of nutrients. These absorptive cells contain membrane bound transporter proteins that mediate the uptake of nutrients such as amino acids, peptides and sugars and play an essential role in regulating both embryonic and post-hatch growth. We have profiled the mRNA expression of these nutrient transporters in the yolk sac during embryogenesis and in different segments of the small intestine during late embryogenesis and early post-hatch. We have found that there are tissue- and age-specific changes in nutrient transporter mRNA expression. 

The host defense peptides are part of the innate immune system.  In chickens, the host defense peptides include the avian beta defensins, cathelicidins and liver expressed antimicrobial peptide 2 (LEAP2).  We have profiled the expression of the avian beta defensins and LEAP2 in the yolk sac and small intestine at different ages.  We have shown that the epithelial cells lining the intestinal villi expressed LEAP2 mRNA

We have also profiled nutrient transporter and host defense peptide expression in response to challenge by an intestinal pathogen such as Eimeria, Salmonella and Campylobacter. In Eimeria challenged chickens, there was downregulation of nutrient transporters at both the brushborder and the basolateral membrane. In addition, there was downregulation of LEAP2 mRNA, which may promote survival of Eimeria.

The yolk sac and small intestine contain absorptive cells and other differentiated cells that arise from a population of stem cells.  We are using in situ hybridization with cell-specific marker genes to identify absorptive and stem cells in both the yolk sac and small intestine.  Epithelial cells lining both the yolk sac and intestinal villi express mRNA for the peptide transporter PepT1, which serves as a marker for absorptive cells.  In the intestine, cells in the intestinal crypts express olfactomedin 4 (Olfm4) and Leucine-rich repeat G protein-coupled receptor 5 (Lgr5) mRNA, which are markers for stem cells.  In the yolk sac, cells that express Lgr5 but not Olfm4 were localized to the vascular endothelial cells lining the blood vessels and may be hematopoietic stem cells.   


Zumbaugh, C.A., Murugesan, G.R., Wong, E.A., and Persia, M.E. 2020. Evaluation of a phytogenic feed additive on turkey poult nutrient digestion and absorption. Anim. Feed Sci. Tech. 267:114575. doi:10.1016/j.anifeedsci.2020.114575

Liu, K, Jia, M., and Wong, E.A. 2020. Delayed access to feed affects broiler small intestinal morphology and intestinal cell ontogeny. Poult. Sci.

Omara, I.I., Mou, C.T., Persia, M.E. and Wong, E.A. 2020. Effects of available phosphorus source and concentration on performance, sodium phosphate type IIb cotransporter, vitamin D-1α-hydroxylase and vitamin D-24-hydroxylase mRNA gene expression in broiler chicks. Poult. Sci. 99:1822-1831. doi 10.1016/j.psj.2019.12.035.

Garcia, J., Byrd J.A., and Wong E.A. 2020. Tissue-, age-, and dose-dependent changes in avian β-defensin and LEAP2 mRNA abundance in the intestines of Salmonella Typhimurium challenged broilers. Animal Biotechnology. doi 10.1080/10495398.2020.1738449

Reynolds, K.L., Cloft, S.E., and Wong, E.A. 2020. Changes with age in density of goblet cells in the small intestine of broiler chicks. Poult. Sci. 99: 2342-2348. doi 10.1016/j.psj.2019.12.052.

Zhang, H and Wong, E.A. 2019. Expression of avian β-defensin mRNA in the chicken yolk sac. Develop. Comp. Immunol. 95:89-95. doi:10.1016/j.dci.2019.02.006

Zhang, H., Li, H., Kidrick, J. N. and Wong, E.A. 2019. Localization of cells expressing SGLT1 mRNA in the yolk sac and small intestine of broiler chickens. Poult Sci. 98:984-990. doi: 10.3382/ps/pey343.

Zhang, S. Gilbert, E.R., Saremi, B., and Wong, E.A. 2018. Supplemental methionine sources have a neutral impact on oxidative status in broiler chickens. J. Anim. Physiol. Anim. Nutr. 102:1274-1283. doi: 10.1111/jpn.12946.

Garcia, J.S., Byrd, J.A., and Wong, E.A. 2018. Expression of nutrient transporters and host defense peptides in Campylobacter challenged broilers. Poult. Sci. 97:3671-3680. doi 10.3382/ps/pey228.

Su, S., Miska, K.B. Fetterer, R.H. Jenkins, M.C., Lamont, S.J. and Wong, E.A.  2018. Differential expression of intestinal nutrient transporters and host defense peptides in Eimeria maxima infected Fayoumi and Ross chickens. Poult. Sci. 97:4392-4400. doi: 10.3382/ps/pey286

Zhang, S., Gilbert, E.R., Noonan, K.J.T., Saremi, B., and Wong, E.A.  2018. Gene expression and activity of methionine converting enzymes in broiler chickens fed methionine isomers or precursors. Poult. Sci. 97:2053-2063. doi: 10.3382/ps/pey037

Kaminski N.A. and Wong, E.A.  2018. Differential mRNA expression of nutrient transporters in male and female chickens. Poult. Sci. 97:313-318. doi: 10.3382/ps/pex262.

Zhang, H. and Wong, E.A. 2018. Identification of cells expressing OLFM4 and LGR5 mRNA by in situ hybridization in the yolk sac and small intestine of embryonic and early post-hatch chicks. Poult. Sci. 97:628-633. doi:10.3382/ps/pex328

Adikari, A.M.J.B., Xu, J., Casterlow, S., Li, E.R., McElroy, A.P., Emmerson, D.A., Dalloul, R.A., Wong, E.A., and Smith, E.J. 2017. Haplotype structure and DNA sequence variation of the liver expressed antimicrobial peptide-2 (chLEAP2) gene in chickens challenged with Eimeria maxima. Intl. J. Poult. Sci. 16:336-343. doi: 10.3923/ijps.2017

Su, S., Dwyer, D.M., Miska, K.B. Fetterer, R.H. Jenkins, M.C., and Wong, E.A.  2017. Expression of avian beta-defensins in the intestine of Eimeria-challenged chickens. Poult Sci. 96:2421-2427. doi:10.3382/ps/pew468

Wong, E., Gilbert, E.R., and Miska, K.B.  2017. Nutrient transporter gene expression in poultry, livestock and fish. In Biology of Domestic Animals. Edited by Colin Scanes and Rodney Hill. CRC Press (in press)

Hamad, S., Kim, S., El Kadi, S.W., Wong, E.A., and Dalloul, R.A. 2017. Comparative expression of host defense peptides in turkey poults. Poultry Sci. 96:2083-2090. doi:10.3382/ps/pew500

Zhang, H, and Wong EA. 2017. Spatial transcriptional profile of PepT1 mRNA in the yolk sac and small intestine in broilers. Poult Sci. 96:2871-2876. doi:10.3382/ps/pex056

Brautigan, DL., Rasia Li, R., Kubicka, E., Turner, SD, Garcia, JS, Weintraut, ML, and Wong EA. 2017. Lysolecithin as feed additive enhances collagen expression and villus length in the jejunum of broiler chickens.  Poult. Sci. 96:2889-2898. doi:10.3382/ps/pex078

Zhang, S., Saremi, B., Gilbert, E.R., and Wong, E.A.  2016. Physiological and biochemical aspects of methionine isomers and their analogue in broilers. Poultry Science. 96:425-439. doi:10.3382/ps/pew253

Weintraut, M., Kim, S., Dalloul, R., and Wong, E.A. 2016. Expression of small intestinal nutrient transporters in embryonic and posthatch turkeys. Poult. Sci. 95:90-98.