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Open Access Research article

Effect of starvation on global gene expression and proteolysis in rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss)

Mohamed Salem1, Jeff Silverstein2, Caird E Rexroad2 and Jianbo Yao1*

Author Affiliations

1 Laboratory of Animal Biotechnology and Genomics, Division of Animal and Nutritional Sciences, West Virginia University, Morgantown, WV 26505, USA

2 U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service, National Center for Cool and Cold Water Aquaculture, Kearneysville, WV 25430, USA

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BMC Genomics 2007, 8:328  doi:10.1186/1471-2164-8-328

Published: 19 September 2007

Abstract

Background

Fast, efficiently growing animals have increased protein synthesis and/or reduced protein degradation relative to slow, inefficiently growing animals. Consequently, minimizing the energetic cost of protein turnover is a strategic goal for enhancing animal growth. Characterization of gene expression profiles associated with protein turnover would allow us to identify genes that could potentially be used as molecular biomarkers to select for germplasm with improved protein accretion.

Results

We evaluated changes in hepatic global gene expression in response to 3-week starvation in rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss). Microarray analysis revealed a coordinated, down-regulated expression of protein biosynthesis genes in starved fish. In addition, the expression of genes involved in lipid metabolism/transport, aerobic respiration, blood functions and immune response were decreased in response to starvation. However, the microarray approach did not show a significant increase of gene expression in protein catabolic pathways. Further studies, using real-time PCR and enzyme activity assays, were performed to investigate the expression of genes involved in the major proteolytic pathways including calpains, the multi-catalytic proteasome and cathepsins. Starvation reduced mRNA expression of the calpain inhibitor, calpastatin long isoform (CAST-L), with a subsequent increase in the calpain catalytic activity. In addition, starvation caused a slight but significant increase in 20S proteasome activity without affecting mRNA levels of the proteasome genes. Neither the mRNA levels nor the activities of cathepsin D and L were affected by starvation.

Conclusion

These results suggest a significant role of calpain and 20S proteasome pathways in protein mobilization as a source of energy during fasting and a potential association of the CAST-L gene with fish protein accretion.