Genes of the undead: hibernation and death display different gene profiles

FEBS Letters
Hanane Hadj-MoussaKenneth B Storey


A degree of regulation continues into death according to post-mortem transcriptome studies, which have identified 'zombie genes' that come alive hours and days after organismal death. We hypothesized that hibernation, representing the closest natural mammalian phenomenon to death, would display similar gene expression profiles. Exploring zombie genes using qPCR and available transcriptomic resources from multiple torpid tissues in 13-lined ground squirrels showed little in common with gene profiles observed following death. Hibernators repress transcription, surviving only on the transcripts required during profound slowdowns of metabolic rate and of most physiological functions, therefore not requiring zombie gene expression that could be the cell's last resort during stress. This is the first study to explore zombie gene responses to a near-death situation in a living system.


Mar 10, 2004·Biological Reviews of the Cambridge Philosophical Society·Kenneth B Storey, Janet M Storey
Oct 23, 2010·Molecular Cell·Amar J MajmundarM Celeste Simon
May 3, 2014·Cell Stress & Chaperones·Shannon N Tessier, Kenneth B Storey
May 22, 2016·Physiological Genomics·Scott T CooperMarshall Hampton
Jan 27, 2017·Open Biology·Alex E PozhitkovPeter A Noble
Mar 23, 2017·Forensic Science International : Synergy·M Colby HunterPeter A Noble
Sep 19, 2017·Communicative & Integrative Biology·Alexander E Pozhitkov, Peter A Noble
Apr 24, 2018·Cellular and Molecular Life Sciences : CMLS·Hanane Hadj-Moussa, Kenneth B Storey
Sep 20, 2018·IUBMB Life·Hanane Hadj-MoussaKenneth B Storey
Jan 27, 2019·The Journal of Experimental Biology·Matthew T Andrews


Related Concepts

Cessation of Life
Gene Expression
General Adaptation Syndrome
Gene Function
Transcriptional Repression
Spermophilus columbianus
Regulation of Biological Process

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