Natural freezing survival by the wood frog, Rana sylvatica, involves multiple organ-specific changes in gene expression. The present study used differential display PCR to find cold-responsive genes in wood frog skin. A cDNA was retrieved from skin that was in higher amounts in cold- versus warm-acclimated frogs. The cDNA was used to probe a wood frog liver cDNA library and retrieve a long sequence that, after the further application of 5′RACE, was shown to encode the full sequence of the ribosomal large subunit protein 7 (RPL7) (GenBank accession number AF175983). Wood frog RPL7 contained 246 amino acids and shared 90% identity with Xenopus laevis RPL7, 82-83% with chicken and zebrafish homologues, and 79% with mammalian RPL7. Multiple binding domains found in human RPL7 showed differing degrees of conservation in the frog protein. Transcript levels of rpl7 were elevated up to 4-fold in skin of cold-acclimated frogs as compared with warm-acclimated animals. Organ-specific responses by rpl7 transcripts also occurred when frogs were given survivable freezing exposures. Transcripts rose by 1.8-3.3 fold in brain and skeletal muscle during freezing but were unaffected in central organs such as liver and heart. Up-regulation of rpl7 also occurred in brain of anoxia-exposed frogs and RPL7 protein levels increased strongly in heart under both freezing and dehydration stresses. Cold- and freezing-responsive up-regulation of the rpl7 gene and RPL7 protein in selected organs suggests that targeted changes in selected ribosomal proteins may be an integral part of natural freeze tolerance.

Anoxia, Cryoprotection, Dehydration, Differential display PCR, Stress-responsive gene expression
Department of Biology

Wu, S. (Shaobo), De Croos, J.N.A. (J.N. Amritha), & Storey, K. (2008). Cold acclimation-induced up-regulation of the ribosomal protein L7 gene in the freeze tolerant wood frog, Rana sylvatica. Gene, 424(1-2), 48–55. doi:10.1016/j.gene.2008.07.023