Molecular snapshot of an intracellular freezing event in an Antarctic nematode
The Antarctic nematode, Panagrolaimus sp. DAW1 (formerly called Panagrolaimus davidi), is the best documented example of an organism able to survive intracellular ice formation in all of its compartments. Not only is it able to survive such extreme physiological disruption, but it is able to produce progeny once thawed from such a state. In addition, under slower rates, or less extreme degrees, of cooling, its body remains unfrozen and the vapour pressure difference between the supercooled body fluids and the surrounding ice leads to a process termed cryoprotective dehydration. In contrast to a fairly large body of work in building up our molecular understanding of cryoprotective dehydration, no comparable work has been undertaken on intracellular freezing. This paper describes an experiment subjecting cultures of Panagrolaimus sp. DAW1 to a range of temperatures including a rapid descent to −10 °C, in a medium just prior to, and after, freezing. Through deep sequencing of RNA libraries we have gained a snapshot of which genes are highly abundant when P. sp. DAW1 is undergoing an intracellular freezing event. The onset of freezing correlated with a high production of genes involved in cuticle formation and subsequently, after 24 h in a frozen state, protease production. In addition to the mapping of RNA sequencing, we have focused on a select set of genes arising both from the expression profiles, as well as implicated from other cold tolerance studies, to undertake qPCR. Among the most abundantly represented transcripts in the RNA mapping is the zinc-metalloenzyme, neprilysin, which also shows a particularly strong upregulated signal through qPCR once the nematodes have frozen.
Authors: Thorne, Michael A.S., Seybold, Anna, Marshall, Craig, Wharton, David