l-Tryptophan Activates Mammalian Target of Rapamycin and Enhances Expression of Tight Junction Proteins in Intestinal Porcine Epithelial Cells Academic Article uri icon


  • BACKGROUND: Besides serving as a substrate for protein synthesis, L-tryptophan (L-Trp) is used via serotonin-, kynurenine-, and niacin-synthetic pathways to produce bioactive compounds crucial for whole-body homeostasis. It is unknown whether L-Trp itself can regulate metabolic pathways in animal cells. OBJECTIVE: This study tested the hypothesis that L-Trp may activate mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) complex 1 and enhance expression of tight junction (TJ) proteins in intestinal porcine epithelial cells. METHODS: Jejunal enterocytes, intestinal porcine epithelial cell line 1 (IPEC-1) isolated from newborn pigs, were cultured in customized Dulbecco's modified Eagle medium (DMEM) supplemented with or without L-Trp for the indicated time periods. Cell proliferation, L-Trp metabolism, protein turnover, mRNA abundance for L-Trp transporters [solute carrier family 3 member 1 (SLC3A1), solute carrier family 6 member 14 (SLC6A14), solute carrier family 6 member 19 (SLC6A19), and Na(+)/K(+) ATPase subunit-1 (ATP1A1)], abundance of proteins involved in mTOR signaling, and TJ proteins were determined. RESULTS: L-Trp was not degraded in IPEC-1 cells. Compared with basal medium containing 0.04 mmol/L L-Trp, 0.4 and 0.8 mmol/L L-Trp enhanced (P < 0.05) protein synthesis by 45-52% and cell growth by 17% and 25% on day 1 and 72% and 51% on day 2, respectively, while reducing (P < 0.05) protein degradation by 12% and 22%, respectively. These effects of L-Trp were associated with mTOR activation and increased (P < 0.05) mRNA abundance for L-Trp transporters (SLC6A19, SLC6A14, and SLC3A1) by 1.5-2.7 fold and ATP1A1 by 3 fold. L-Trp also upregulated (P < 0.05) the abundance of occludin, claudin-4, zonula occludens (ZO) 1 and 2 by 0.5-2 fold but did not affect expression of claudin-1 or ZO-3 in IPEC-1 cells. CONCLUSION: L-Trp is not catabolized by pig small intestinal epithelial cells but can regulate intracellular protein turnover and expression of TJ proteins in these cells.

published proceedings

  • J Nutr

altmetric score

  • 1.75

author list (cited authors)

  • Wang, H., Ji, Y., Wu, G., Sun, K., Sun, Y., Li, W., ... Wu, Z.

citation count

  • 81

complete list of authors

  • Wang, Hao||Ji, Yun||Wu, Guoyao||Sun, Kaiji||Sun, Yuli||Li, Wei||Wang, Bin||He, Beibei||Zhang, Qing||Dai, Zhaolai||Wu, Zhenlong

publication date

  • January 2015