Rewiring metabolism under oxygen deprivation

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Science  21 Apr 2017:
Vol. 356, Issue 6335, pp. 248-249
DOI: 10.1126/science.aan1505

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When faced with a reduced availability of oxygen in the environment (hypoxia), vertebrates can make a variety of respiratory, cardiovascular, and hematological adjustments to ensure an uninterrupted supply of oxygen to the cells of metabolizing tissues (1, 2). These are adaptive solutions for “aerobic organisms in an aerobic world” (3). Coping with the complete absence of oxygen (anoxia) requires more fundamental alterations of cellular metabolism that are typically nothing more than emergency stopgap measures to buy time until the oxygen supply is (hopefully) reestablished (4). On page 307 of this issue, Park et al. (5) identify a new champion of anoxia tolerance among mammals—the naked mole-rat.