Enzymatic regulation of glycogenolysis in a subarctic population of the wood frog: implications for extreme freeze tolerance
do Amaral, M. Clara F.
Lee, Richard E.
Costanzo, Jon P.
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The wood frog, Rana sylvatica, from Interior Alaska survives freezing at –16°C, a temperature 10–13°C below that tolerated by its southern conspecifics. We investigated the hepatic freezing response in this northern phenotype to determine if its profound freeze tolerance is associated with an enhanced glucosic cryoprotectant system. Alaskan frogs had a larger liver glycogen reserve that was mobilized faster during early freezing as compared to conspecifics from a cool-temperate region (southern Ohio, USA). In Alaskan frogs the rapid glucose production in the first hours of freezing was associated with a 7-fold increase in glycogen phosphorylase activity above unfrozen frog levels, and the activity of this enzyme was higher than that of frozen Ohioan frogs. Freezing of Ohioan frogs induced a more modest (4-fold) increase in glycogen phosphorylase activity above unfrozen frog values. Relative to the Ohioan frogs, Alaskan frogs maintained a higher total protein kinase A activity throughout an experimental freezing/thawing time course, and this may have potentiated glycogenolysis during early freezing. We found populational variation in the activity and protein level of protein kinase A which suggested that the Alaskan population had a more efficient form of this enzyme. Alaskan frogs modulated their glycogenolytic response by decreasing the activity of glycogen phosphorylase after cryoprotectant mobilization was well under way, thereby conserving their hepatic glycogen reserve. Ohioan frogs, however, sustained high glycogen phosphorylase activity until early thawing and consumed nearly all their liver glycogen. These unique hepatic responses of Alaskan R. sylvatica likely contribute to this phenotype’s exceptional freeze tolerance, which is necessary for their survival in a subarctic climate.