Maternal supplementation with rumen-protected methionine increases prepartal plasma methionine concentration and alters hepatic mRNA abundance of 1-carbon, methionine, and transsulfuration pathways in neonatal Holstein calves

C. B. Jacometo, Z. Zhou, D. Luchini, M. N. Corrêa, Juan J Loor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


An important mechanism of nutritional “programming” induced by supplementation with methyl donors during pregnancy is the alteration of mRNA abundance in the offspring. We investigated the effects of rumen-protected Met (RPM) on abundance of 17 genes in the 1-carbon, Met, and transsulfuration pathways in calf liver from cows fed the same basal diet without (control, CON) or with RPM at 0.08% of diet dry matter/d (MET) from −21 through +30 d around calving. Biopsies (n = 8 calves per diet) were harvested on d 4, 14, 28, and 50 of age. Cows fed RPM had greater plasma concentration of Met (17.8 vs. 28.2 μM) at −10 d from calving. However, no difference was present in colostrum yield and free AA concentrations. Greater abundance on d 4 and 14 of betaine-homocysteine S-methyltransferase 2 (BHMT2), adenosylhomocysteinase (AHCY; also known as SAHH), and cystathionine-β-synthase (CBS) in MET calves indicated alterations in Met, choline, and homocysteine metabolism. Those data agree with the greater abundance of methionine adenosyltransferase 1A (MAT1A) in MET calves. Along with CBS, the greater abundance of glutamate-cysteine ligase (GCLC) and glutathione reductase (GSR) on d 4 in MET calves indicated a short-term postnatal alteration in the use of homocysteine for taurine and glutathione synthesis (both are potent intracellular antioxidants). The striking 7-fold upregulation at d 50 versus 4 of cysteine sulfinic acid decarboxylase (CSAD), catalyzing the last step of taurine synthesis, in MET and CON calves underscores an important role of taurine during postnatal calf growth. The unique role of taurine in the young calf is further supported by the upregulation of CBS, GCLC, and GSR at d 50 versus 14 and 28 in MET and CON. Although betaine-homocysteine S-methyltransferase (BHMT) activity did not differ in MET and CON, it increased ∼50% at d 14 and 28 versus 4. A significant positive correlation (r = 0.79) was present between BHMT abundance and BHMT activity regardless of treatment. The gradual upregulation over time of BHMT2 and SAHH coupled with the gradual upregulation of MAT1A and the DNA (cytosine-5-)-methyltransferases (DNMT1, DNMT3A, DNMT3B) in MET and CON calves was indicative of adaptations potentially driven by differences in intake of milk replacer and starter feed as calves grew. In that context, the ∼2.5-fold increase in abundance of DNMT3B at d 50 versus 4 in MET and CON indicate that DNA methylation might be an important component of the physiologic adaptations of calf liver. The data indicate that calves from MET-supplemented cows underwent alterations in Met, choline, and homocysteine metabolism partly to synthesize taurine and glutathione, which would be advantageous for controlling metabolic-related stress. Whether the effects in MET calves were directly related to increased Met supply in utero remains to be determined.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3209-3219
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Dairy Science
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1 2017



  • 1-carbon metabolism
  • calf gene expression
  • methionine cycle
  • methyl donors

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Genetics

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