Marine Biotechnology

, Volume 17, Issue 6, pp 753–767 | Cite as

Food Shortage Causes Differential Effects on Body Composition and Tissue-Specific Gene Expression in Salmon Modified for Increased Growth Hormone Production

  • Jason Abernathy
  • Stéphane Panserat
  • Thomas Welker
  • Elisabeth Plagne-Juan
  • Dionne Sakhrani
  • David A. Higgs
  • Florence Audouin
  • Robert H. Devlin
  • Ken Overturf
Original Article


Growth hormone (GH) transgenic salmon possesses markedly increased metabolic rate, appetite, and feed conversion efficiency, as well as an increased ability to compete for food resources. Thus, the ability of GH-transgenic fish to withstand periods of food deprivation as occurs in nature is potentially different than that of nontransgenic fish. However, the physiological and genetic effects of transgenic GH production over long periods of food deprivation remain largely unknown. Here, GH-transgenic coho salmon (Oncorhynchus kisutch) and nontransgenic, wild-type coho salmon were subjected to a 3-month food deprivation trial, during which time performance characteristics related to growth were measured along with proximate compositions. To examine potential genetic effects of GH-transgenesis on long-term food deprivation, a group of genes related to muscle development and liver metabolism was selected for quantitative PCR analysis. Results showed that GH-transgenic fish lose weight at an increased rate compared to wild-type even though proximate compositions remained relatively similar between the groups. A total of nine genes related to muscle physiology (cathepsin, cee, insulin-like growth factor, myostatin, murf-1, myosin, myogenin, proteasome delta, tumor necrosis factor) and five genes related to liver metabolism (carnitine palmitoyltransferase, fatty acid synthase, glucose-6-phosphatase, glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase, glucokinase) were shown to be differentially regulated between GH-transgenic and wild-type coho salmon over time. These genetic and physiological responses assist in identifying differences between GH-transgenic and wild-type salmon in relation to fitness effects arising from elevated growth hormone during periods of long-term food shortage.


Oncorhynchus kisutch Coho salmon Transgenic Liver Metabolism Muscle Proximate analysis Gene expression Network analysis 



This work was in part funded by the USDA—Agricultural Research Service to KO, by INRA—National Institute of Agronomic Research to SP and from the Canadian Biotechnology Strategy to RHD. Mention of trade names or commercial products in this article is solely for the purpose of providing specific information and does not imply recommendation or endorsement by the United States Department of Agriculture.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York (outside the USA) 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jason Abernathy
    • 1
  • Stéphane Panserat
    • 2
  • Thomas Welker
    • 1
  • Elisabeth Plagne-Juan
    • 2
  • Dionne Sakhrani
    • 3
  • David A. Higgs
    • 3
  • Florence Audouin
    • 3
  • Robert H. Devlin
    • 3
  • Ken Overturf
    • 1
  1. 1.USDA-ARS, Hagerman Fish Culture Experiment StationHagermanUSA
  2. 2.INRA, UR1067 Nutrition Metabolism AquacultureSaint-Pée-sur-NivelleFrance
  3. 3.Fisheries and Oceans CanadaWest VancouverCanada

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