Cloning of Putative Uncoupling Protein 1 cDNA in a Cold-intolerant Mammal, the House Musk Shrew (Suncus murinus)
The house musk shrew (Suncus murinus), or suncus, is a unique experimental animal. We recently showed that this mammal is cold intolerant and hypothesized that its sensitivity to cold is caused by low thermogenic activity in brown adipose tissue (BAT). Thermogenesis in BAT is performed by a unique mitochondrial protein, uncoupling protein 1 (UCP1). Interestingly, only eutherians possess UCP1, and some traits in the suncus resemble those in the Ucp1-ablated mouse, including cold intolerance, histology of BAT, and obesity resistance. In a previous study, we hypothesized that UCP1 may not be present in BAT of the suncus or may be dysfunctional. Therefore, we performed cDNA cloning of suncus Ucp1 and compared it to homologs from other species. The deduced amino acid sequence showed high similarity to other mammalian UCP1. Northern blot analysis revealed mRNA in BAT, as in other mammals. However, a difference in an amino acid residue was observed in an important residue for thermogenesis. Genomic sequence analysis showed that this difference existed in our two genetically distant laboratory colonies. These results suggest that cold intolerance in the suncus is derived from low thermogenic activity of UCP1 and may exist in wild house musk shrews.
- Zoological science
Zoological science 23(11), 1009-1015, 2006-11-25