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Mol Cell Biochem. 2005 Dec;280(1-2):99-106.

HIF-1alpha involvement in low temperature and anoxia survival by a freeze tolerant insect.

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Institute of Biochemistry and Department of Chemistry, College of Natural Sciences, Carleton University, 1125 Colonel By Drive, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.


Winter survival for many insect species relies on the ability to endure the freezing of extracellular body fluids. Because freezing impedes oxygen delivery to tissues, one component of natural freeze tolerance is a well-developed anoxia/ischemia resistance. The present study explores the responses of the hypoxia-inducible factor-1alpha (HIF-1alpha) to cold, freezing and anoxia exposures in the freeze tolerant goldenrod gall fly larva, Eurosta solidaginis. Reverse transcription-PCR was used to quantify hif-1alpha transcript levels; transcripts were significantly elevated by approximately 70% in chilled (3 ( composite function)C), frozen (-16 ( composite function)C) and thawed (returned to 3 ( composite function)C) insects, compared with 15 ( composite function)C controls. Transcripts also rose by approximately 3-fold in insects given anoxia exposure under a nitrogen gas atmosphere. Cold and freezing exposure also elevated HIF-1alpha protein content in the larvae and HIF-1alpha levels increased over the winter months in insects sampled from an outdoor population; levels peaked in February at 2.1-fold higher than in September. A partial sequence of HIF-1alpha that covers the bHLH and PAS domains of the protein was obtained from E. solidaginis and sequence analysis revealed that this segment shared 62% identity overall with Drosophila melanogaster HIF-1alpha and higher percent identities within specific domains: 76% within the bHLH domain and 70% within the PAS domain. The data provide the first documentation of a potential role for HIF-1 in regulating the expression of genes that can aid freezing survival in a cold-hardy animal.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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