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Comp Biochem Physiol B Biochem Mol Biol. 2018 Oct;224:19-25. doi: 10.1016/j.cbpb.2017.12.006. Epub 2017 Dec 13.

Strategies of biochemical adaptation for hibernation in a South American marsupial, Dromiciops gliroides: 2. Control of the Akt pathway and protein translation machinery.

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Department of Biology and Institute of Biochemistry, Carleton University, 1125 Colonel By Drive, Ottawa, Ontario K1S 5B6, Canada.
Instituto de Ciencias Ambientales y Evolutivas, Facultad de Ciencias, Universidad Austral de Chile, Campus Isla Teja, Valdivia, Chile.
CSIRO Oceans & Atmosphere, GPO Box 1538, Hobart 7001, Tasmania, Australia.
Department of Biology and Institute of Biochemistry, Carleton University, 1125 Colonel By Drive, Ottawa, Ontario K1S 5B6, Canada. Electronic address:


When faced with harsh environmental conditions, the South American marsupial, monito del monte (Dromiciops gliroides), reduces its body temperature and uses either daily torpor or multiday hibernation to survive. This study used ELISA and multiplex assays to characterize the responses to hibernation by three regulatory components of protein translation machinery [p-eIF2α(S51), p-eIF4E(S209), p-4EBP(Thr37/46)] and eight targets involved in upstream signaling control of translation [p-IGF-1R(Tyr1135/1136), PTEN(S380), p-Akt(S473), p-GSK-3α(S21), p-GSK-3β(S9), p-TSC2(S939), p-mTOR(S2448), and p70S6K(T412)]. Liver, brain and kidney were analyzed comparing control and hibernation (4days continuous torpor) conditions. In the liver, increased phosphorylation of IGF-1R, Akt, GSK-3β, TSC2, mTOR, eIF2α, and 4EBP (1.60-1.98 fold compared to control) occurred during torpor suggesting that the regulatory phosphorylation cascade and protein synthesis remained active during torpor. However, responses by brain and kidney differed; torpor resulted in increased phosphorylation of GSK-3β (2.15-4.17 fold) and TSC2 (2.03-3.65 fold), but phosphorylated Akt decreased (to 34-62% of control levels). Torpor also led to an increase in phosphorylated eIF2α (1.4 fold) content in the brain. These patterns of differential protein phosphorylation in brain and kidney were indicative of suppression of protein translation but also could suggest an increase in antioxidant and anti-apoptotic signaling during torpor. Previous studies of liver metabolism in hibernating eutherian mammals have shown that Akt kinase and its downstream signaling components play roles in facilitating hypometabolism by suppressing energy expensive anabolic processes during torpor. However, the results in this study reveal differences between eutherian and marsupial hibernators, suggesting alternative actions of liver Akt during torpor.


Brain; Control of protein synthesis; Eukaryotic translation initiation factors; Hibernation; Kidney; Liver; Monito del monte; Torpor regulation

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