Mammalian hibernators must cope with hypothermia, ischemia-reperfusion, and finite fuel reserves during days or weeks of continuous torpor. One means of lowering ATP demands during hibernation involves substantial transcriptional controls. The present research analyzed epigenetic regulatory factors as a means of achieving transcriptional control over cycles of torpor-arousal. This study analyzes differential regulation of select histone modifications (e.g. phosphorylation, acetylation, methylation), and identifies post-translational modifications on purified histones using mass spectrometry from thirteen-lined ground squirrels (Ictidomys tridecemlineatus). Post-translational modifications on histone proteins were responsive to torpor-arousal, suggesting a potential mechanism to dynamically alter chromatin structure. Furthermore, proteomic sequencing data of ground squirrel histones identified lysine 19 and 24 acetylation on histone H3, while acetylation sites identified on H2B were lysine 6, 47, 110, and 117. The present study provides a new glimpse into the epigenetic mechanisms which may play a role in transcriptional regulation during mammalian hibernation.

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Keywords Acetylation, Epigenetics, Histone post-translational modification, Mass spectrometry, Phosphorylation, Thirteen-lined ground squirrel, Torpor, Western blot
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Journal Cryobiology
Tessier, S.N. (Shannon N.), Luu, B.E. (Bryan E.), Smith, J.C. (Jeffrey C.), & Storey, K. (2017). The role of global histone post-translational modifications during mammalian hibernation. Cryobiology, 75, 28–36. doi:10.1016/j.cryobiol.2017.02.008