Changes in tissue abundance and activity of enzymes related to branched-chain amino acid catabolism in dairy cows during early lactation
Branched-chain α-keto acid dehydrogenase (BCKDH) complex catalyzes the irreversible oxidative decarboxylation of branched-chain α-keto acids. This reaction is considered as the rate-limiting step in the overall branched-chain amino acid (BCAA) catabolic pathway in mammals. For characterizing the potential enzymatic involvement of liver, skeletal muscle, adipose tissue (AT), and mammary gland (MG) in BCAA metabolism during early lactation, tissue and blood samples were examined on d 1, 42, and 105 after parturition from 25 primiparous Holstein cows. Serum BCAA profiles were analyzed and the mRNA and protein abundance as well as the activity in the different tissues were assessed for the BCAA catabolic enzymes, partly for the branched-chain aminotransferase and completely for BCKDH. Total BCAA concentration in serum was lowest on d 1 after parturition and increased thereafter to a steady level for the duration of the experiment. Pronounced differences between the tissues were observed at all molecular levels. The mRNA abundance of the mitochondrial isoform of branched-chain aminotransferase (BCATm) was greatest in AT as compared with the other tissues studied, indicating that AT might be an important contributor in the initiation of BCAA catabolism in dairy cows. From the different subunits of the BCKDH E1 component, only the mRNA for the β polypeptide (BCKDHB), not for the α polypeptide (BCKDHA), was elevated in liver. The BCKDHA mRNA abundance was similar across all tissues except muscle, which tended to lower values. Highest BCKDHA protein abundance was observed in both liver and MG, whereas BCKDHB protein was detectable in these tissues but could not be quantified. Adipose tissue and muscle only displayed abundance of the α subunit, with muscle having the lowest BCKDHA protein of all tissues. We found similarities in protein abundance for both BCKDH E1 subunits in liver and MG; however, the corresponding overall BCKDH enzyme activity was 7-fold greater in liver compared with MG, allowing for hepatic oxidation of BCAA transamination products. Reduced BCKDH activity in MG associated with no measurable activity in AT and muscle may favor sparing of BCAA for the synthesis of the different milk components, including nonessential AA. Deviating from previously published data on BCAA net fluxes and isotopic tracer studies in ruminants, our observed results might in part be due to complex counter-regulatory mechanisms during early lactation.
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