Multistate proteomics analysis reveals novel strategies used by a hibernator to precondition the heart and conserve ATP for winter heterothermy

Katharine R. Grabek, Anis Karimpour-Fard, L. Elaine Epperson, Allyson Hindle, Lawrence E. Hunter, Sandra L. Martin


The hibernator's heart functions continuously and avoids damage across the wide temperature range of winter heterothermy. To define the molecular basis of this phenotype, we quantified proteomic changes in the 13-lined ground squirrel heart among eight distinct physiological states encompassing the hibernator's year. Unsupervised clustering revealed a prominent seasonal separation between the summer homeotherms and winter heterotherms, whereas within-season state separation was limited. Further, animals torpid in the fall were intermediate to summer and winter, consistent with the transitional nature of this phase. A seasonal analysis revealed that the relative abundances of protein spots were mainly winter-increased. The winter-elevated proteins were involved in fatty acid catabolism and protein folding, whereas the winter-depleted proteins included those that degrade branched-chain amino acids. To identify further state-dependent changes, protein spots were re-evaluated with respect to specific physiological state, confirming the predominance of seasonal differences. Additionally, chaperone and heat shock proteins increased in winter, including HSPA4, HSPB6, and HSP90AB1, which have known roles in protecting against ischemia-reperfusion injury and apoptosis. The most significant and greatest fold change observed was a disappearance of phospho-cofilin 2 at low body temperature, likely a strategy to preserve ATP. The robust summer-to-winter seasonal proteomic shift implies that a winter-protected state is orchestrated before prolonged torpor ensues. Additionally, the general preservation of the proteome during winter hibernation and an increase of stress response proteins, together with dephosphorylation of cofilin 2, highlight the importance of ATP-conserving mechanisms for winter cardioprotection.

  • 2D DiGE
  • CFL2
  • hibernating
  • Ictidomys (spermophilus) tridecemlineatus
  • mass spectrometry


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