Rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) urea cycle and polyamine synthesis gene families show dynamic expression responses to inflammation

T C Clark, J Tinsley, D J Macqueen, S A M Martin* (Corresponding Author)

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)
5 Downloads (Pure)


The urea cycle is an endogenous source of arginine that also supports removal of nitrogenous waste following protein metabolism. This cycle is considered inefficient in salmonids, where only 10-15% of nitrogenous waste is excreted as urea. In rainbow trout, arginine is an essential amino acid that has attracted attention due to its many functional roles. These roles include the regulation of protein deposition, immune responses and polyamine synthesis; the latter is directly linked to the urea cycle and involved in tissue repair. The key enzymes used in the urea cycle, namely arginase, ornithine transcarbamylase, argininosuccinate synthase and argininosuccinate lyase, in addition to two rate limiting enzymes required for polyamine synthesis (ornithine decarboxylase and s-adenosylmethionine decarboxylase) are poorly studied in fishes, and their responses to inflammation remain unknown. To address this knowledge gap, we characterised these gene families using phylogenetics and comparative genomics, investigated their mRNA distribution among a panel of tissues and established their transcriptional responses to an acute inflammatory response caused by bacterial infection in liver and muscle. Gene duplicates (paralogues) were identified for arginase (ARG1a, 1b, 2a and 2b), ornithine decarboxylase (ODC1 and 2) and s-adenosylmethionine decarboxylase (SAMdc1 and 2), including paralogues retained from an ancestral salmonid-specific whole genome duplication. ARG2a and 2b were highly upregulated following bacterial infection in liver, whereas ARG1b was downregulated, while both paralogues of SAMdc and ODC were upregulated in both liver and muscle. Overall, these findings improve our understanding of the molecules supporting the urea cycle and polyamine synthesis in fish, highlighting major changes in the regulation of these systems during inflammation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)290-300
Number of pages11
JournalFish & Shellfish Immunology
Early online date1 Apr 2019
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2019

Bibliographical note

The research was supported by a studentship to T. Clark funded between the University of Aberdeen and BioMar Ltd.


  • urea cycle
  • polyamine
  • salmonids
  • genome duplication
  • immune
  • arginase
  • Polyamine
  • Genome duplication
  • Immune
  • Arginase
  • Salmonids
  • Urea cycle


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