Tracing the dynamics of gene transcripts after organismal death

Open Biology
Alex E PozhitkovPeter A Noble


In life, genetic and epigenetic networks precisely coordinate the expression of genes-but in death, it is not known if gene expression diminishes gradually or abruptly stops or if specific genes and pathways are involved. We studied this by identifying mRNA transcripts that apparently increase in relative abundance after death, assessing their functions, and comparing their abundance profiles through postmortem time in two species, mouse and zebrafish. We found mRNA transcript profiles of 1063 genes became significantly more abundant after death of healthy adult animals in a time series spanning up to 96 h postmortem. Ordination plots revealed non-random patterns in the profiles by time. While most of these transcript levels increased within 0.5 h postmortem, some increased only at 24 and 48 h postmortem. Functional characterization of the most abundant transcripts revealed the following categories: stress, immunity, inflammation, apoptosis, transport, development, epigenetic regulation and cancer. The data suggest a step-wise shutdown occurs in organismal death that is manifested by the apparent increase of certain transcripts with various abundance maxima and durations.

Associated Datasets


Mar 3, 2018·Biopreservation and Biobanking·Kimberly WhiteHorst Ronald Zielke
Nov 2, 2017·Briefings in Functional Genomics·Chung-Chau HonM J T Stubbington
Feb 15, 2018·Nature Communications·Pedro G FerreiraRoderic Guigó
Feb 16, 2019·FEBS Letters·Hanane Hadj-MoussaKenneth B Storey
Sep 19, 2017·Communicative & Integrative Biology·Alexander E Pozhitkov, Peter A Noble
Jun 7, 2019·Journal of Forensic Sciences·Zachary M BurchamHeather R Jordan
Jul 24, 2020·Molecular Ecology·Anna E SavageRobert C Fleischer
Sep 16, 2018·BMC Genomics·Peter A Noble, Alexander E Pozhitkov
Nov 7, 2019·BMC Genomics·Pavel AbaffyRadek Sindelka
Aug 9, 2017·BioEssays : News and Reviews in Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology·Alexander E Pozhitkov, Peter A Noble


Jan 1, 1986·Journal of Neuroscience Research·S A JohnsonC E Finch
Sep 1, 1985·Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America·B J Wu, R I Morimoto
Jul 1, 1995·The Journal of Cell Biology·N C ChiS A Adam
Jul 1, 1994·The Journal of Cell Biology·J Höhfeld, F U Hartl
Aug 1, 1993·American Journal of Respiratory Cell and Molecular Biology·N E WickershamJ W Christman
Jul 1, 1993·Medicine, Science, and the Law·C J Babapulle, N P Jayasundera
Jan 1, 1996·Molecular and Cellular Biology·G A PrestonJ C Barrett
Aug 1, 1995·Current Opinion in Structural Biology·S H WhiteM E Selsted
Dec 15, 1996·Experimental Cell Research·S NakielnyG Dreyfuss
Feb 7, 1998·The Journal of Biological Chemistry·B J GilpinU M Wewer
Feb 3, 1998·Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications·B L TangW Hong
Jun 20, 1998·Mechanisms of Development·R ToyamaI B Dawid
Mar 24, 1998·Chromosome Research : an International Journal on the Molecular, Supramolecular and Evolutionary Aspects of Chromosome Biology·T VogelJ Schmidtke
Sep 2, 1998·The International Journal of Biochemistry & Cell Biology·A AllenJ P Pearson
Jul 16, 1999·The EMBO Journal·S ConchonH R Pelham
Aug 7, 1999·The Journal of Biological Chemistry·M Iizuka, B Stillman
Oct 16, 1999·Brain Research·I S ZagonP J McLaughlin
Jun 15, 2000·Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America·S OkamotoS A Lipton
Aug 3, 2000·The Journal of Biological Chemistry·K KokameT Miyata
Oct 26, 2000·Current Biology : CB·J WittschiebenR D Wood
Dec 21, 2000·The Journal of Immunology : Official Journal of the American Association of Immunologists·J W LillardJ R McGhee
Feb 24, 2001·Journal of Hepatology·E B HaagsmaP L Jansen
Mar 30, 2001·The Journal of Biological Chemistry·N GnesuttaA Minden
Jun 20, 2001·Immunology·P R Crocker, A Varki

Related Concepts

Biochemical Pathway
Cessation of Life
Gene Expression
Near-Death Experience
Study of Epigenetics

Related Feeds


Apoptosis is a specific process that leads to programmed cell death through the activation of an evolutionary conserved intracellular pathway leading to pathognomic cellular changes distinct from cellular necrosis

Apoptosis in Cancer

Apoptosis is an important mechanism in cancer. By evading apoptosis, tumors can continue to grow without regulation and metastasize systemically. Many therapies are evaluating the use of pro-apoptotic activation to eliminate cancer growth. Here is the latest research on apoptosis in cancer.

Related Papers

Tidsskrift for den Norske lægeforening : tidsskrift for praktisk medicin, ny række
S A Christoffersen
Marcia McNutt
© 2020 Meta ULC. All rights reserved