2015 Beckman Symposium   

Elena Gracheva, PhD

Presentation Date:

Elena Gracheva, PhD

Active Neuronal Thermogenesis Supports Brain Function During Arousal From Hibernation

Yale University

Cellular and Molecular Biology


Hibernating animals possess a unique ability to re-warm their bodies from torpid (2oC) to euthermic levels (37°C) in as little as 2 hours. The process involves shivering and non-shivering thermogenesis controlled by the nervous system. How the CNS maintains functionality during torpor and coordinates re-warming is not known. Here, using infrared imaging, we describe that hibernating thirteen-lined ground squirrels (Ictidomys tridecemlineatus) warm their brain first during the initial steps of arousal through a process of active neuronal thermogenesis. Differential transcriptomics and de novo cloning allowed us to identify mitochondrial uncoupling protein 1 (UCP1) in squirrel nervous tissues and delineate a molecular mechanism for active thermogenesis in the brain. These findings reveal a novel molecular pathway that supports nervous system function during hibernation.


Authors: Willem J. Laursen1,2, Marco Mastrotto1,2,, Dominik Pesta1,3, Owen Funk1, Jena Goodman1,2, Dana K. Merriman4, Nicholas T. Ingolia5,6 , Gerald I. Shulman1,3, Sviatoslav N. Bagriantsev1* & Elena O. Gracheva1,2*

1Department of Cellular and Molecular Physiology, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT
 2Program in Cellular Neuroscience, Neurodegeneration and Repair, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT
3Department of Internal Medicine, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT
4Department of Biology and Microbiology, University of Wisconsin Oshkosh, Oshkosh, WI
5Department of Embryology, Carnegie Institution for Science, Baltimore, MD

 6Department of Molecular Biology and Genetics, Johns Hopkins Medical Institute, Baltimore, MD.

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