Sam Logan, M.Sc. Biology 2017

Control of selective mRNA translation over the torpor-arousal cycle of thirteen-lined ground squirrels


Mammalian hibernation is an interesting adaptation that allows many capable animals like the thirteen-lined ground squirrel to endure the winter months on a low or absent food supply. Metabolic suppression during hibernation is facilitated by diverse biochemical mechanisms including the global shut-down of energy expensive processes like transcription and translation, the use of post-translational modifications to regulate protein activity, and differential gene/protein expression of essential protein products. Differential protein expression can occur during hibernation, but it remains incompletely understood how transcripts are “chosen” to be translated instead of stored or degraded. This thesis explores two mechanisms that may regulate differential gene and protein expression during hibernation, including RNA-binding protein (RBP) stabilization and transport of transcripts, and translation machinery activation. Notably, RBPs and cap-dependent translation factors were upregulated over the torpor-arousal cycle. These results suggest a possible role for proteins that regulate mRNA stability and enhance translation during metabolic suppression