Metabolic adjustments during starvation in Daphnia pulex

Comp Biochem Physiol B Biochem Mol Biol. 2021 Mar 2;255:110591. doi: 10.1016/j.cbpb.2021.110591. Online ahead of print.


Zooplankton organisms face a variable food supply in their habitat. Metabolic adjustments during periods of starvation were analysed from changes in metabolite level to gene expression in the microcrustacean Daphnia pulex during starvation. The animals exploited their carbohydrate stores first, but their lipid and protein reserves were also degraded, albeit more slowly. Glycogenolysis and probably gluconeogenesis led to hyperglycaemia after 16 h of starvation. The concentration of α-ketoglutarate and the rate of oxygen consumption also reached maxima during this period. Nuclear HIF-1α levels and α-ketoglutarate concentration showed inverse correlation. Effects of this 2-oxoacid on prolyl hydroxylase activity, HIF-1α stability and the role of this transcription factor in the changes of the expression level of several putatively HIF-1-mediated metabolic genes are discussed. Transcriptome profiling via RNA-Seq revealed a downregulation of genes for protein biosynthesis and an upregulation of genes for carbohydrate metabolism during starvation. Thus, the adjustments of energy metabolism in response to food deprivation were quantified from the level of metabolites, signal transduction and gene expression, and possible connections of the respective dynamics of observed changes were analysed.

Keywords: Carbohydrate reserves; Energy metabolism; Hypoxia-inducible factor; Lipid stores; Starvation; α-Ketoglutarate.