Steven C. Greenway and Kenneth B. Storey
The responses of mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) family members, including ERK (extracellular signal-regulated kinase), JNK (c-Jun NH2-terminal kinase), and p38, in the metabolic responses to whole animal freezing (up to 24 h frozen at -2.5°C) and thawing (up to 4 h at 5°C after a 12 h freeze) were examined in four organs (liver, kidney, heart, brain) of the freeze-tolerant wood frog Rana sylvatica. Levels of the active phosphorylated form of p38 increased within 20 minutes as an early response to freezing in liver and kidney but rose later (after 12 h) in heart. Both JNK and p38 were activated during thawing in liver, kidney and heart with temporally-distinct patterns in each organ. The only MAPK response to freeze/thaw in frog brain was a transient elevation of p38 after 90 min thawing. ERK activity did not respond to freeze/thaw in any organ. The levels of c-Fos increased during freezing in kidney and brain whereas c-Jun was unaffected by freeze/thaw. Organ-specific responses by MAPKs, particularly p38, suggest that these may have roles in regulating metabolic or gene expression responses that may be adaptive in dealing with freezing stress or metabolic recovery during thawing.