Role of Akt signaling pathway regulation in the speckled mousebird (Colius striatus) during torpor displays tissue specific responses

04 Dec 2020

Pronounced heterothermic responses are relatively rare among birds. Along with taxa such as hummingbirds and caprimulgids, the order Coliiformes (mousebirds) is known to possess the physiological capacity for torpor. During torpor, body temperature is greatly reduced and a bird becomes unresponsive to external stimuli until ambient temperatures return to more favorable conditions. Under such conditions, these birds are forced to rely only on their internal fuel storage for energy and show great reduction in metabolic rates by decreasing energy-expensive processes. This study investigated the role of the key insulin-Akt signaling kinase pathway involved in regulating energy metabolism and protein translation in the liver, kidney, heart, skeletal muscle, and brain of the speckled mousebird (Colius striatus). The degree of phosphorylation of well-conserved target residues with important regulatory function was examined in both the euthermic control and torpid birds. The results demonstrated marked differences in responses between the tissues with decreases in RPS6 S235/236 phosphorylation in the kidney (0.52 fold of euthermic) and muscle (0.29 fold of euthermic) as well as decreases in GS3K3β S9 in muscle (0.60 fold of euthermic) and GSK3α S21 (0.71 fold of euthermic) phosphorylation in kidney during torpor, suggesting a downregulation of this pathway. Interestingly, the liver demonstrated an increase in RPS6 S235/236 (2.89 fold increase) and P70S6K T412 (1.44 fold increase) phosphorylation in the torpor group suggesting that protein translation is maintained in this tissue. This study demonstrates that avian torpor is a complex phenomenon and alterations in this signaling pathway follow a tissue specific pattern.