Regulation of Akt during torpor in the hibernating ground squirrel, Ictidomys tridecemlineatus
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The 13-lined ground squirrel (Ictidomys tridecemlineatus) is capable of entering into extended periods of torpor during winter hibernation. The state of torpor represents a hypometabolic shift wherein the rate of oxygen consuming processes are strongly repressed in an effort to maintain cellular homeostasis as the availability of food energy becomes limited. We are interested in studying hibernation/torpor because of the robust state of tolerance to constrained oxygen delivery, oligemia, and hypothermia achieved by the tissues of hibernating mammals. The role of the serine/threonine kinase Akt (also known as PKB) has been examined in torpor in previous studies. However, this is the first study that examines the level of Akt phosphorylation in the liver during the two transition phases of the hibernation cycle: entrance into torpor, and the subsequent arousal from torpor. Our results indicate that Akt is activated in the squirrel liver by phosphorylation of two key residues (Thr308 and Ser473) during entrance into torpor and arousal from torpor. Moreover, we observed increased phosphorylation of key substrates of Akt during the two transition stages of torpor. Finally, this study reports the novel finding that PRAS40, a component of the TORC1 multi-protein complex and a potentially important modulator of metabolism, is regulated during torpor.
KeywordsIctidomys tridecemlineatus Hibernation Metabolic rate depression Akt PRAS40 mTOR
The authors would like to thank Jan Storey and Dr. Maria Spatz for critical review of this manuscript. This research was supported (in part) by the Intramural Research Program of the NIH, NINDS.
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