Metabolic sources switch from carbohydrates in utero, to fatty acids after birth and then a mix once adults. O-GlcNAcylation (O-GlcNAc) is a post-translational modification considered as a nutrient sensor. The purpose of this work was to assess changes in protein O-GlcNAc levels, regulatory enzymes and metabolites during the first periods of life and decipher the impact of O-GlcNAcylation on cardiac proteins.
Heart, brain and liver were harvested from rats before and after birth (D-1 and D0), in suckling animals (D12), after weaning with a standard (D28) or a low-carbohydrate diet (D28F), and adults (D84). O-GlcNAc levels and regulatory enzymes were evaluated by Western blots. Mass spectrometry (MS) approaches were performed to quantify levels of metabolites regulating O-GlcNAc and identify putative cardiac O-GlcNAcylated proteins.
Protein O-GlcNAc levels decrease drastically and progressively from D-1 to D84 (13-fold, p<0.05) in the heart, whereas the changes were opposite in liver and brain. O-GlcNAc levels were unaffected by weaning diet in any tissues. Changes in expression of enzymes and levels of metabolites regulating O-GlcNAc were tissue-dependent. MS analyses identified changes in putative cardiac O-GlcNAcylated proteins, namely those involved in the stress response and energy metabolism, such as ACAT1, which is only O-GlcNAcylated at D0.
Our results demonstrate that protein O-GlcNAc levels are not linked to dietary intake and regulated in a time and tissue-specific manner during postnatal development. We have identified by untargeted MS putative proteins with a particular O-GlcNAc signature across the development process suggesting specific role of these proteins.

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