UMass Chan Medical School Faculty Publications

UMMS Affiliation

Program in Bioinformatics and Integrative Biology

Publication Date


Document Type

Article Preprint


Biochemical Phenomena, Metabolism, and Nutrition | Bioinformatics | Genomics | Physiological Processes | Zoology


Hibernating mammals exhibit medically relevant phenotypes, but the genetic basis of hibernation remains poorly understood. Using the meadow jumping mouse (Zapus hudsonius), we investigated the genetic underpinnings of hibernation by uniting experimental and comparative genomic approaches. We assembled a Z. hudsonius genome and identified widespread expression changes during hibernation in genes important for circadian rhythm, membrane fluidity, and cell cycle arrest. Tissue-specific gene expression changes during torpor encompassed Wnt signaling in the brain and structural and transport functions in the kidney brush border. Using genomes from the closely related Zapus oregonus (previously classified as Z. princeps) and leveraging a panel of hibernating and non-hibernating rodents, we found selective pressure on genes involved in feeding behavior, metabolism, and cell biological processes potentially important for function at low body temperature. Leptin stands out with elevated conservation in hibernating rodents, implying a role for this metabolic hormone in triggering fattening and hibernation. These findings illustrate that mammalian hibernation requires adaptation at all levels of organismal form and function and lay the groundwork for future study of hibernation phenotypes.


Genomics, hibernation, meadow jumping mouse, phenotypes

Rights and Permissions

The copyright holder for this preprint is the author/funder, who has granted bioRxiv a license to display the preprint in perpetuity. It is made available under a CC-BY-NC-ND 4.0 International license.

DOI of Published Version



bioRxiv 2020.11.02.365791; doi: Link to preprint on bioRxiv


This article is a preprint. Preprints are preliminary reports of work that have not been certified by peer review.

Journal/Book/Conference Title


Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.