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PeerJ. 2016 Mar 24;4:e1834. doi: 10.7717/peerj.1834. eCollection 2016.

Anti-apoptotic response during anoxia and recovery in a freeze-tolerant wood frog (Rana sylvatica).

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Department of Biology, Carleton University, Ottawa, ON, Canada; Current affiliation: Faculty of Medicine, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, ON, Canada.
Department of Biology, Carleton University , Ottawa, ON , Canada.
Institute of Biochemistry, Department of Biology and Chemistry, Carleton University , Ottawa, ON , Canada.


The common wood frog, Rana sylvatica, utilizes freeze tolerance as a means of winter survival. Concealed beneath a layer of leaf litter and blanketed by snow, these frogs withstand subzero temperatures by allowing approximately 65-70% of total body water to freeze. Freezing is generally considered to be an ischemic event in which the blood oxygen supply is impeded and may lead to low levels of ATP production and exposure to oxidative stress. Therefore, it is as important to selectively upregulate cytoprotective mechanisms such as the heat shock protein (HSP) response and expression of antioxidants as it is to shut down majority of ATP consuming processes in the cell. The objective of this study was to investigate another probable cytoprotective mechanism, anti-apoptosis during oxygen deprivation and recovery in the anoxia tolerant wood frog. In particular, relative protein expression levels of two important apoptotic regulator proteins, Bax and p-p53 (S46), and five anti-apoptotic/pro-survival proteins, Bcl-2, p-Bcl-2 (S70), Bcl-xL, x-IAP, and c-IAP in response to normoxic, 24 Hr anoxic exposure, and 4 Hr recovery stages were assessed in the liver and skeletal muscle using western immunoblotting. The results suggest a tissue-specific regulation of the anti-apoptotic pathway in the wood frog, where both liver and skeletal muscle shows an overall decrease in apoptosis and an increase in cell survival. This type of cytoprotective mechanism could be aimed at preserving the existing cellular components during long-term anoxia and oxygen recovery phases in the wood frog.


Anoxia; Apoptosis; Cytoprotection; Hypometabolism; Pro-survival; Wood frog

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