Cell Biology

Suspended Animation

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Science  14 Feb 2003:
Vol. 299, Issue 5609, pp. 979
DOI: 10.1126/science.299.5609.979a

A continuous supply of oxygen generally is required to maintain energy supplies in aerobic organisms. Drosophila embryos, however, are capable of withstanding profound oxygen deprivation. Teodoro and O'Farrell find that, as soon as severe hypoxia begins, embryos arrest development, but they remain capable of resuming development even after several days in the absence of oxygen. This “suspended animation” phase did not result in the turning on of stress-related genes, but it did rely on the stabilization of RNAs (and proteins) of developmental patterning genes like engrailed. Surviving oxygen deprivation involved nitric oxide (NO) metabolism, and entry into stasis could be triggered by adding NO donors. In addition, scavenging NO increased the likelihood that embryos would not survive prolonged hypoxia. — SMH

EMBO J.22, 580 (2003).

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