Teleosts exhibit a broad divergence in their adaptive response to stress, depending on the magnitude, duration, and frequency of stressors and the species receiving the stimulus. We have previously reported that the red cusk-eel (Genypterus chilensis), an important marine farmed fish, shows a physiological response to stress that results in increased skeletal muscle atrophy mediated by over-expression of components of the ubiquitin proteasome and autophagy-lysosomal systems. To better understand the systemic effects of stress on the red cusk-eel metabolism, the present study assessed the transcriptomic hepatic response to repetitive handling-stress. Using high-Throughput RNA-seq, 259 up-regulated transcripts were found, mostly associated with angiogenesis, gluconeogenesis, and triacylglyceride catabolism. Conversely, 293 transcripts were down-regulated, associated to cholesterol biosynthesis, PPARα signaling, fatty acid biosynthesis, and glycolysis. This gene signature was concordant with hepatic metabolite levels and hepatic oxidative damage. Moreover, the increased plasmatic levels of AST (aspartate aminotransferase), ALT (alanine aminotransferase) and AP (alkaline phosphatase), as well as liver histology suggest stress-induced liver steatosis. This study offers an integrative molecular and biochemical analysis of the hepatic response to handling-stress, and reveals unknown aspects of lipid metabolism in a non-model teleost.
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