The ability to endure the freezing of body fluids is well developed as an adaptation for winter survival in several species of woodland frogs. Recently, the mechanisms supporting natural freeze tolerance have been shown to include the expression of novel genes. One such novel gene, fr47, codes for a 390-amino acid protein present in the livers of freeze-tolerant anurans (Rana sylvatica, Pseudacris crucifer, Hyla versicolor) but not in freeze-intolerant species (Rana pipiens, Scaphiopus couchii). Regulatory influences on gene and protein expression were investigated using R. sylvatica. Northern blot analysis showed that transcript levels were increased following 24 h of freezing (5.1-fold), 24 h of anoxia exposure (6.4-fold), or the loss of 20% of total body water (2.7-fold). Immunoblotting with anti-FR47 antibody indicated that protein levels increased during freezing and thawing, but decreased somewhat during anoxia or dehydration exposure, although rebounding during recovery. These results suggest that (i) FR47 function is important for freeze survival, and (ii) that control at the protein level may be exerted posttranscriptionally. Finally, assessment of putative signal transduction pathways regulating fr47 gene expression, via in vitro incubations of liver slices, indicated the involvement of a protein kinase C-mediated pathway.

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Biochimica et Biophysica Acta - Gene Structure and Expression
Department of Biology

McNally, J.D. (J. Dayre), Sturgeon, C.M. (Christopher M.), & Storey, K. (2003). Freeze-induced expression of a novel gene, fr47, in the liver of the freeze-tolerant wood frog, Rana sylvatica. Biochimica et Biophysica Acta - Gene Structure and Expression, 1625(2), 183–191. doi:10.1016/S0167-4781(02)00603-6