The wood frog (Rana sylvatica) is one of only a few vertebrate species that can survive extensive freezing of its body fluids during the winter. The mechanisms of natural freeze tolerance include metabolic rate depression to conserve energy and the implementation of cryoprotective strategies, especially the synthesis of huge amounts of glucose as a cryoprotectant. Liver is the main source of glucose production/export (and other cryoprotective actions) and plays a central role in freezing survival of the whole animal. Freezing is a multi-component stress that includes anoxia/ischemia due to the cessation of blood flow and dehydration of cells caused by ice accumulation in extracellular spaces. To help endure these stresses, cells need to suppress and reprioritize ATP -expensive cell functions. One of these is cell growth and proliferation, and we hypothesized that cell cycle arrest would be key to freezing survival. The present study examines the responses by key cell cycle components to freezing, anoxia and dehydration stresses in wood frog liver. Immunoblotting was used to investigate protein expression of Cdc 2, Cdks (2, 4 and 6) and cyclins (A, B1, D1 and E) as well as the phosphorylation states of Cdks (Thr14/Tyr15), the phosphatases Cdc25a (Ser76) and Cdc25c (Ser216) and the CIP/KIP Cdk inhibitors p21 (Thr145) and p27 (Thr187). Responses to 24 h freezing, 24 h anoxia and 40% dehydration as well as recovery from these stresses were analyzed. The results showed very similar responses by cell cycle components to anoxia or dehydration and were consistent with cell cycle suppression under stress and reversal during recovery. Freezing showed elements of cell cycle suppression, including reduced protein levels of Cdks and cyclins A and B1, but also showed unique responses by cyclin D1, Cdc25 phosphatases and p21/p27. These may be linked with alternative actions by these proteins that contribute to cryoprotection; e.g., an alternative action of cyclin D1 as a transcription factor may contribute to the upregulation of glucose-6-phosphatase, a key enzyme needed for the export of glucose cryoprotectant.

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Keywords Anoxia, Cell cycle suppression, Dehydration, Freeze tolerance, Hypometabolism
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Journal Cell Cycle
Zhang, J. (Jing), & Storey, K. (2012). Cell cycle regulation in the freeze-tolerant wood frog, Rana sylvatica. Cell Cycle, 11(9), 1727–1742. doi:10.4161/cc.19880