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Biochem Res Int. 2015;2015:731595. doi: 10.1155/2015/731595. Epub 2015 Dec 30.

Transcriptional Activation of p53 during Cold Induced Torpor in the 13-Lined Ground Squirrel Ictidomys tridecemlineatus.

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Institute of Biochemistry and Department of Biology, Carleton University, 1125 Colonel By Drive, Ottawa, ON, Canada K1S 5B6.


The transcription factor p53 is located at the centre of multiple pathways relating the cellular response to stress. Commonly known as a tumor suppressor, it is responsible for initiating diverse actions to protect the integrity of the genome, ranging from cell cycle arrest to apoptosis. This study investigated the regulation of p53 protein in hibernating 13-lined ground squirrel Ictidomys tridecemlineatus during multiple stages of the torpor-arousal cycle. Transcript and protein levels of p53 were both elevated in the skeletal muscle during early and late torpor stages of the hibernation cycle. Nuclear localization of p53 was also increased during late torpor, and this is associated with an increase in its DNA binding activity and expression of p53 transcriptional targets p21CIP, gadd45α, and 14-3-3σ. The increase in p53 transcriptional activity appears to be independent of its phosphorylation at Ser-15, Ser-46, and Ser-392, consistent with an absence of checkpoint kinase activation during torpor. Sequence analysis revealed unique amino acid substitutions in the ground squirrel p53 protein, which may contribute to an increase in protein stability compared to nonhibernators. Overall, the study results provided evidences for a potential role of p53 in the protection of the skeletal muscle during torpor.

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