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Braz J Med Biol Res. 2013 Dec;46(12):1000-1006. Epub 2013 Dec 2.

Whole transcriptome organisation in the dehydrated supraoptic nucleus.

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University of Bristol, The Henry Wellcome Laboratories for Integrative Neuroscience and Endocrinology, Bristol, UK.
Schumacher College, Devon, UK.


The supraoptic nucleus (SON) is part of the central osmotic circuitry that synthesises the hormone vasopressin (Avp) and transports it to terminals in the posterior lobe of the pituitary. Following osmotic stress such as dehydration, this tissue undergoes morphological, electrical and transcriptional changes to facilitate the appropriate regulation and release of Avp into the circulation where it conserves water at the level of the kidney. Here, the organisation of the whole transcriptome following dehydration is modelled to fit Zipf's law, a natural power law that holds true for all natural languages, that states if the frequency of word usage is plotted against its rank, then the log linear regression of this is -1. We have applied this model to our previously published euhydrated and dehydrated SON data to observe this trend and how it changes following dehydration. In accordance with other studies, our whole transcriptome data fit well with this model in the euhydrated SON microarrays, but interestingly, fit better in the dehydrated arrays. This trend was observed in a subset of differentially regulated genes and also following network reconstruction using a third-party database that mines public data. We make use of language as a metaphor that helps us philosophise about the role of the whole transcriptome in providing a suitable environment for the delivery of Avp following a survival threat like dehydration.

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