Arctic charr brain transcriptome strongly affected by summer seasonal growth but only subtly by feed deprivation
Results: In this study, we compared the brain transcriptomes of fed and feed deprived charr over a 4 weeks trial during their summer feeding season. Despite prominent differences in body condition between fed and feed deprived charr at the end of the trial, feed deprivation affected the brain transcriptome only slightly. In contrast, the transcriptome differed markedly over time in both fed and feed deprived charr, indicating strong shifts in basic cell metabolic processes possibly due to season, growth, temperature, or combinations thereof. The GO enrichment analysis revealed that many biological processes appeared to change in the same direction in both fed and feed deprived fish. In the feed deprived charr processes linked to oxygen transport and apoptosis were down- and up-regulated, respectively. Known genes encoding for appetite regulators did not respond to feed deprivation. Gene expression of Deiodinase 2 (DIO2), an enzyme implicated in the regulation of seasonal processes in mammals, was lower in response to season and feed deprivation. We further found a higher expression of VGF (non-acronymic) in the feed deprived than in the fed fish. This gene encodes for a neuropeptide associated with the control of energy metabolism in mammals, and has not been studied in relation to regulation of appetite and energy homeostasis in fish.
Conclusions: In the Arctic charr, external and endogenous seasonal factors for example the increase in temperature and their circannual growth cycle, respectively, evoke much stronger responses in the brain than 4 weeks feed deprivation. The absence of a central hunger response in feed deprived charr give support for a strong resilience to the lack of food in this high Arctic species. DIO2 and VGF may play a role in the regulation of energy homeostasis and need to be further studied in seasonal fish.