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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Low-temperature carbon utilization is regulated by novel gene activity in the heart of a hibernating mammal.

Hibernation is a physiological adaptation characterized by dramatic decreases in heart rate, body temperature, and metabolism, resulting in long-term dormancy. Hibernating mammals survive for periods up to 6 mo in the absence of food by minimizing carbohydrate catabolism and using triglyceride stores as their primary source of fuel. The cellular and molecular mechanisms underlying the changes from a state of activity to the hibernating state are poorly understood; however, the selective expression of genes offers one level of control. To address this problem, we used a differential gene expression screen to identify genes that are responsible for the physiological characteristics of hibernation in the heart of the thirteen-lined ground squirrel (Spermophilus tridecemlineatus). Here, we report that genes for pancreatic lipase and pyruvate dehydrogenase kinase isozyme 4 are up-regulated in the heart during hibernation. Pancreatic lipase is normally expressed exclusively in the pancreas, but when expressed in the hibernating heart it liberates fatty acids from triglycerides at temperatures as low as 0 degreesC. Pyruvate dehydrogenase kinase isozyme 4 inhibits carbohydrate oxidation and depresses metabolism by preventing the conversion of pyruvate to Ac-CoA. The resulting anaerobic glycolysis and low-temperature lipid catabolism provide evidence that adaptive changes in cardiac physiology are controlled by the differential expression of genes during hibernation.[1]


  1. Low-temperature carbon utilization is regulated by novel gene activity in the heart of a hibernating mammal. Andrews, M.T., Squire, T.L., Bowen, C.M., Rollins, M.B. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. (1998) [Pubmed]
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