Transcriptomic analysis of brown adipose tissue across the physiological extremes of natural hibernation

Marshall E Hampton, Richard G Melvin, Matthew T. Andrews

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

50 Scopus citations

Abstract

We used RNAseq to generate a comprehensive transcriptome of Brown Adipose Tissue (BAT) over the course of a year in the naturally hibernating thirteen-lined ground squirrel, Ictidomys tridecemlineatus. During hibernation ground squirrels do not feed and use fat stored in White Adipose Tissue (WAT) as their primary source of fuel. Stored lipid is consumed at high rates by BAT to generate heat at specific points during the hibernation season. The highest rate of BAT activity occurs during periodic arousals from hypothermic torpor bouts, referred to as Interbout Arousals (IBAs). IBAs are characterized by whole body re-warming (from 5 to 37°C) in 2-3 hours, and provide a unique opportunity to determine the genes responsible for the highly efficient lipid oxidation and heat generation that drives the arousal process. Illumina HighSeq sequencing identified 14,573 distinct BAT mRNAs and quantified their levels at four points: active ground squirrels in April and October, and hibernating animals during both torpor and IBA. Based on significant changes in mRNA levels across the four collection points, 2,083 genes were shown to be differentially expressed. In addition to providing detail on the expression of nuclear genes encoding mitochondrial proteins, and genes involved in beta-adrenergic and lipolytic pathways, we identified differentially expressed genes encoding various transcription factors and other regulatory proteins which may play critical roles in high efficiency fat catabolism, non-shivering thermogenesis, and transitions into and out of the torpid state.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere85157
JournalPloS one
Volume8
Issue number12
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 30 2013

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