Delta-6-desaturase (FADS2) inhibition and omega-3 fatty acids in skeletal muscle protein turnover


Polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) are essential dietary components. They are not only used for energy, but also act as signaling molecules. The delta-6 desaturase (D6D) enzyme, encoded by the FADS2 gene, is one of two rate limiting enzymes that convert the PUFA precursors – α-linolenic (n-3) and linoleic acid (n-6) to their respective metabolites. Alterations in the D6D enzyme activity alters fatty acid profiles and are associated with metabolic and inflammatory diseases including cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes. Omega-3 PUFAs, specifically its constituent fatty acids DHA and EPA, are known for their anti-inflammatory ability and are also beneficial in the prevention of skeletal muscle wasting, however the mechanism for muscle preservation is not well understood. Moreover, little is known of the effects of altering the n-6/n-3 ratio in the context of a high-fat diet, which is known to downregulate protein synthesis. Twenty C57BL6 male mice were fed a high-fat lard (HFL, 45% fat (mostly lard), 35% carbohydrate and 20% protein, n-6:n-3 PUFA, 13:1) diet for 6 weeks. Mice were then divided into 4 groups (n = 5 per group): HFL– high-fat oil– (HFO, 45% fat (mostly Menhaden oil), 35% carbohydrate and 20% protein, n-6:n-3 PUFA, 1:3), HFL+ (HFL diet plus an orally administered FADS2 inhibitor, 100 mg/kg/day), and HFO+ (HFO diet plus an orally administered FADS2 inhibitor, 100 mg/kg/day). After 2 weeks on their respective diets and treatments, animals were sacrificed and gastrocnemius muscle harvested. Protein turnover signaling were analyzed via Western Blot. 4-EBP1 and ribosomal protein S6 expression were measured. A two-way ANOVA revealed no significant change in the phosphorylation of both 4EBP-1 and ribosomal protein S6 with diet or inhibitor. There was a significant reduction in STAT3 phosphorylation with the inhibition of FADS2 (p = 0.03). Additionally, we measured markers of protein degradation through levels of FOXO phosphorylation, ubiquitin, and LC3B expression; there was a trend towards increased phosphorylation of FOXO (p = 0.08) and ubiquitinated proteins (p = 0.05) with FADS2 inhibition. LC3B expression, a marker of autophagy, was significantly higher in the HFL plus FADS2 inhibition group from all other comparisons. Lastly, we analyzed activation of mitochondrial biogenesis which is closely linked with protein synthesis through PGC1-α and Cytochrome-C expression, however no significant differences were associated with either marker across all groups. Collectively, these data suggest that the protective effects of muscle mass by omega-3 fatty acids are from inhibition of protein degradation. Our aim was to determine the role of PUFA metabolites, DHA and EPA, in skeletal muscle protein turnover and assess the effects of n-3s independently. We observed that by inhibiting the FADS2 enzyme, the protective effect of n-3s on protein synthesis and proliferation was lost; concomitantly, protein degradation was increased with FADS2 inhibition regardless of diet.

Publication Title

Biochemistry and Biophysics Reports