Hepatic phosphorylation status of serine/threonine kinase 1, mammalian target of rapamycin signaling proteins, and growth rate in Holstein heifer calves in response to maternal supply of methionine

T. Xu, A. S.M. Alharthi, F. Batistel, A. Helmbrecht, C. Parys, E. Trevisi, X. Shen, J. J. Loor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The study investigated whether methionine supply during late pregnancy is associated with liver mammalian target of rapamycin (MTOR) pathway phosphorylation, plasma biomarkers, and growth in heifer calves born to cows fed a control diet (CON) or the control diet plus ethylcellulose rumen-protected methionine (MET; 0.09% of dry matter intake) for the last 28 d prepartum. Calves were fed and managed similarly during the first 56 d of age. Plasma was harvested at birth and 2, 7, 21, 42, and 50 d of age and was used for biomarker profiling. Liver biopsies were harvested at 4, 14, 28, and 50 d of age and used for protein expression. Body weight, hip height, hip width, wither height, body length, rectal temperature, fecal score, and respiratory score were measured weekly. Starter intake was measured daily, and average daily gain was calculated during the first 8 wk of age. During the first 7 wk of age, compared with calves in the CON group, calves in the MET group had greater body weight, hip height, wither height, and average daily gain despite similar daily starter intake. Concentration of methionine in plasma was lower at birth but increased markedly at 2 and 7 d of age in MET calves. Plasma insulin, glucose, free fatty acids, and hydroxybutyrate did not differ. A greater ratio of phosphorylated α-serine/threonine kinase (AKT):total AKT protein expression was detected in MET calves, namely due to differences at 4 d of age. The phosphorylated MTOR:total MTOR ratio also was greater in MET calves due to differences at 28 and 50 d (8 d postweaning). The decrease in phosphorylated MTOR:total MTOR between 14 and 28 d in CON calves agreed with the increase in phosphorylated eukaryotic translation initiation factor 4E binding protein 1 (EIF4EBP1):total EIF4EBP1 ratio during the same time frame. The overall expression of phosphorylated ribosomal protein S6 kinase B1 (RPS6KB1):total RPS6KB1 and phosphorylated eukaryotic translation elongation factor 2 (EEF2):total EEF2 was lower in MET calves. Regardless of methionine supply prepartum, there was an 11-fold temporal decrease from 4 to 50 d in phosphorylated AKT:total AKT. Similarly, regardless of methionine supply, there were overall decreases in phosphorylation ratios of AKT, MTOR, RPS6KB1, and eukaryotic translation initiation factor 2A (EIF2A) over time. Data provide evidence of a positive effect of methionine supply during the last month of pregnancy on rates of growth during the first 7 wk of age. Phosphorylation status of some components of the MTOR pathway in neonatal calf liver also was associated with greater maternal supply of methionine. Thus, the data suggest that molecular mechanisms in the liver might be programmed by supply of methionine during late pregnancy. The exact mechanisms coordinating the observed responses remain to be determined.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)8476-8491
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Dairy Science
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2018


  • amino acid
  • gluconeogenesis
  • insulin
  • ruminant

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Genetics


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