Aminopeptidase-N modulation assists lean mass anabolism during refuelling in the white-throated sparrow

Michael Griego, OEB PhD student, and Dr. Alexander Gerson, Associate professor in the Biology department, and others, published a paper in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B showing how migratory birds selectively increase their capacity to digest protein after long flights. During flight, migratory birds breakdown protein for various metabolic needs, resulting in dramatic loss of mass of organs and muscles, including the digestive tract. Selectively increasing protein digestion after flight may increase amino acid assimilation even when digestion is compromised, allowing the recovery of muscles and organs needed to complete migration. The findings of this study highlight the importance of rapid phenotypic flexibility to migratory animals, and demonstrates a novel mechanism that allows migratory birds to refuel quickly after long duration flights.
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Photo Credit: Cory Elowe