Effects of dietary protein level on growth performance, digestive enzyme activity, and gene expressions of the TOR signaling pathway in fingerling Pelteobagrus fulvidraco

  • Qin Qin
  • Xiu-Fei Cao
  • Yong-jun Dai
  • Li-Na Wang
  • Ding-Dong Zhang
  • Guang-Zhen Jiang
  • Wen-Bin LiuEmail author


An 8-week feeding trial was conducted to investigate effects of dietary protein levels (37, 40, and 43%) on the growth performance, feed utilization, digestive enzyme activity, and gene expressions of target of rapamycin (TOR) signaling pathway in fingerling yellow catfish. One hundred and eighty fingerlings (average weight 0.77 ± 0.03 g) were equally distributed across four replicate tanks for each of the three treatments, with 15 fish per tank. No difference (P > 0.05) was observed in initial body weight, survival rate (SR), hepatosomatic index (HSI), viscera index (VSI), dressing percentage (DP), and condition factor (CF) among all the treatments. The diet containing 40% protein increased significantly (P < 0.05) final body weight, weight gain rate (WGR), specific growth rate (SGR), protein efficiency ratio (PER), nitrogen retention (NRE), and energy retention (ERE) in fish. The highest protease activity in the stomach and intestine was observed in the P40 group (P < 0.05), while amylase and lipase were not significantly different (P > 0.05). The transcriptional levels of IGF-1, IGF-1R, and Akt were significantly (P < 0.05) higher in fish fed P40 or P43 than those of fish fed P37. TOR and S6K1 mRNA expressions were significantly (P < 0.05) increased in the P40 groups. Hence, the diet containing 40% protein would be suitable for the optimum growth and effective protein utilization of fingerling Pelteobagrus fulvidraco. In vitro, the transcriptional levels of IGF-1, IGF-1R, Akt, TOR, and S6K1 in hepatocyte supplemented with a 40-μM mixed amino acids were significantly (P < 0.05) higher compared to other treatments. No difference (P > 0.05) was observed in eukaryotic translation initiation factor 4E-binding protein 1 in vivo and in vitro among all the treatments. Effects of dietary protein level on growth performance likely are involved in the activation of TOR signaling pathway in fingerling Pelteobagrus fulvidraco.


Protein level Growth performance TOR signaling pathway Pelteobagrus fulvidraco 


Funding information

This research was supported by the funding of Jiangsu Fisheries Research System (JFRS-05), Jiangsu Agriculture Science and Technology Innovation Fund (CX (16)1004), and Key Project for Jiangsu Agricultural New Variety Innovation (PZCZ201742).

Compliance with ethical standards

The use of experimental animals in the present study has been approved by the Animal Care and Use Committee of Nanjing Agricultural University (Nanjing, China). All experimental procedures involving animals were conducted following the Guidelines for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals in China (permit number: SYXK (Su) 2011-0036).

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

All applicable Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) of Nanjing Agricultural University were followed by the authors. All efforts were made to minimize the suffering of the animals.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Wuxi Fisheries CollegeNanjing Agricultural UniversityWuxiPeople’s Republic of China
  2. 2.Key Laboratory of Aquatic Nutrition and Feed Science of Jiangsu Province, College of Animal Science and TechnologyFreshwater Fisheries Research Institute of Jiangsu ProvinceNanjingPeople’s Republic of China
  3. 3.Key Laboratory of Aquatic Nutrition and Feed Science of Jiangsu Province, College of Animal Science and TechnologyNanjing Agricultural UniversityNanjingPeople’s Republic of China

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