Mammalian Hibernation: Physiology, Cell Signaling, and Gene Controls on Metabolic Rate Depression

  • Kenneth B. StoreyEmail author
  • Gerhard Heldmaier
  • Mark H. Rider
Part of the Topics in Current Genetics book series (TCG, volume 21)


During the hibernating season, small mammals may suppress their metabolic rate during cyclic periods of deep torpor by as much as 99% as compared with normothermia. Endocrine regulation of metabolic depression is still poorly understood but recent studies suggest involvement of hormones including iodothyronamine, leptin, and ghrelin. At the intracellular level, suppression of many metabolic functions is achieved via reversible protein phosphorylation of metabolic enzymes, protein synthesis translation factors, and ion pumps. Potential roles for signaling enzymes such as the AMP-activated protein kinase in the coordination of metabolic suppression have been analyzed. Recent advances in the control of global gene expression have identified participating mechanisms including histone modifications that affect chromatin structure, SUMOylation to suppress transcription factor action, and differential regulation of mRNA transcripts by interaction with microRNA species. However, despite global transcriptional suppression, selected transcription factors are active during torpor bouts triggering the up-regulation of specific genes that serve the hibernation phenotype.


White Adipose Tissue Ground Squirrel Torpor Bout Daily Torpor Metabolic Depression 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



Thanks to J.M. Storey for editorial review of the manuscript. Research in the Storey lab was supported by a discovery grant from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada; KBS holds the Canada Research Chair in Molecular Physiology. Research in the Rider laboratory was supported by the Interuniversity Attraction Poles Program – Belgian Science Policy (P5/05 and P6/28), the Directorate General Higher Education and Scientific Research, French Community of Belgium, the Fund for Medical Scientific Research (Belgium), and the EXGENESIS Integrated Project (LSHM-CT-2004-005272) from the European Commission. Research in the Heldmaier lab was supported by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG HE 990/9 and 10).


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kenneth B. Storey
    • 1
    Email author
  • Gerhard Heldmaier
    • 2
  • Mark H. Rider
    • 3
  1. 1.Institute of BiochemistryCarleton UniversityOttawaCanada
  2. 2.Faculty of BiologyMarburg UniversityMarburgGermany
  3. 3.Université catholique de Louvain and de Duve InstituteBrusselsBelgium

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