, Volume 118, Issue 1, pp 65-76
Date: 10 May 2007

Effect of Supplemental Dietary Zinc on the Mammalian Target of Rapamycin (mTOR) Signaling Pathway in Skeletal Muscle and Liver from Post-absorptive Mice

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Zinc (Zn) is an essential trace element that functions in cellular signaling. The mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) regulates the initiation of protein synthesis. The objective of this study was to determine whether Zn could stimulate protein phosphorylation in the mTOR pathway in vivo. Mice (C57BL/6J, n = 30) were fed Zn marginal diets (ZM, 5 mg/kg) for 4 weeks, followed by fasting (F) and/or refeeding with ZM or Zn supplemental (300 mg/kg, ZS) diets for 3 or 6 h. Plasma insulin was greater (P < 0.05) in refed animals as compared to F animals. Protein phosphorylation was detected using multiplex analysis and Western blotting. Multiplex analysis indicated greater (P < 0.05) p70 S6 kinase (p70S6K) and glycogen synthase kinase 3 (GSK-3 α/β) phosphorylation in livers from 6-h refed ZS animals as compared to F animals. Western blots indicated increased (P < 0.05) Akt (Ser 473) phosphorylation in skeletal muscle from animals refed ZS diets for 3 and 6 h as compared to F animals. The ZS diet affected phosphorylation of GSK-3 (α/β) in liver, as 3-h ZS refed animals had greater (P < 0.01) phosphorylation than F animals. These findings indicate that Zn may contribute to the initiation of protein synthesis as a signaling molecule in vivo.