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Mol Cell Proteomics. 2004 Sep;3(9):920-33. Epub 2004 Jul 20.

Quantitative analysis of liver protein expression during hibernation in the golden-mantled ground squirrel.

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  • 1Program in Molecular Biology, Department of Cell and Developmental Biology, University of Colorado School of Medicine, P.O. Box 6511, Mail Stop 8108, Aurora, CO 80045, USA.


Mammals that enter deep hibernation experience extreme reductions in body temperature and in metabolic, respiratory, and heart rates for several weeks at a time. Survival of these extremes likely entails a highly regulated network of tissue- and time-specific gene expression patterns that remain largely unknown. To date, studies to identify differentially-expressed genes have employed a candidate gene approach or in a few cases broader unbiased screens at the RNA level. Here we use a proteomic approach to compare and identify differentially expressed liver proteins from two seasonal stages in the golden-mantled ground squirrel (summer and entrance into torpor) using two-dimensional gels followed by MS/MS. Eighty-four two-dimensional gel spots were found that quantitatively alter with the hibernation season, 68 of which gave unambiguous identifications based on similarity to sequences in the available mammalian database. Based on what is known of these proteins from prior research, they are involved in a variety of cellular processes including protein turnover, detoxification, purine biosynthesis, gluconeogenesis, lipid metabolism and mobility, ketone body formation, cell structure, and redox balance. A number of the enzymes found to change seasonally are known to be either rate-limiting or first enzymes in a metabolic pathway, indicating key roles in metabolic control. Functional roles are proposed to explain the changes seen in protein levels and their potential influence on the phenotype of hibernation.

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