The African clawed frog, Xenopus laevis, is an ectothermic vertebrate that can survive at low environmental temperatures. To gain insight into the molecular events induced by low body temperature, liver proteins were evaluated at the standard laboratory rearing temperature (22°C, control) and a low environmental temperature (5°C, cold exposure). Using nano-flow liquid chromatography coupled with tandem mass spectrometry, we identified 58 proteins that differed in abundance. A subsequent Gene Ontology analysis revealed that the tyrosine and phenylalanine catabolic processes were modulated by cold exposure, which resulted in decreases in hepatic tyrosine and phenylalanine, respectively. Similarly, levels of pyruvate kinase and enolase, which are involved in glycolysis and glycogen synthesis, were also decreased, whereas levels of glycogen phosphorylase, which participates in glycogenolysis, were increased. Therefore, we measured metabolites in the respective pathways and found that levels of hepatic glycogen and glucose were decreased. Although the liver was under oxidative stress because of iron accumulation caused by hepatic erythrocyte destruction, the hepatic NADPH/NADP ratio was not changed. Thus, glycogen is probably utilized mainly for NADPH supply rather than for energy or glucose production. In conclusion, X. laevis responds to low body temperature by modulating its hepatic proteome, which results in altered carbohydrate metabolism.
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