Genome sequencing and transcriptome analyses of the Siberian hamster hypothalamus identify novel mechanisms for seasonal energy balance

Riyue Bao, Kenneth G. Onishi, Elisabetta Tolla, Fran J. P. Ebling, J E Lewis, R. L. Anderson, Perry Barrett, Brian J. Prendergast, Tyler J. Stevenson (Corresponding Author)

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Synthesis of triiodothyronine (T3) in the hypothalamus induces marked seasonal neuromorphology changes across taxa. How species-specific responses to T3 signaling in the CNS drive annual changes in body weight and energy balance remains uncharacterized. These experiments sequenced and annotated the Siberian hamster (Phodopus sungorus) genome, a model organism for seasonal physiology research, to facilitate the dissection of T3-dependent molecular mechanisms that govern predictable, robust, and long-term changes in body weight. Examination of the Phodopus genome, in combination with transcriptome sequencing of the hamster diencephalon under winter and summer conditions, and in vivo-targeted expression analyses confirmed that proopiomelanocortin (pomc) is a primary genomic target for the long-term T3-dependent regulation of body weight. Further in silico analyses of pomc promoter sequences revealed that thyroid hormone receptor 1β-binding motif insertions have evolved in several genera of the Cricetidae family of rodents. Finally, experimental manipulation of food availability confirmed that hypothalamic pomc mRNA expression is dependent on longer-term photoperiod cues and is unresponsive to acute, short-term food availability. These observations suggest that species-specific responses to hypothalamic T3, driven in part by the receptor-binding motif insertions in some cricetid genomes, contribute critically to the long-term regulation of energy balance and the underlying physiological and behavioral adaptations associated with the seasonal organization of behavior.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)13116-13121
Number of pages6
Issue number26
Early online date12 Jun 2019
Publication statusPublished - 25 Jun 2019



  • triiodothyronine
  • proopiomelanocortin
  • seasonal
  • obesity
  • Obesity
  • Proopiomelanocortin
  • Triiodothyronine
  • Seasonal
  • MICE

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General

Cite this

Bao, R., Onishi, K. G., Tolla, E., Ebling, F. J. P., Lewis, J. E., Anderson, R. L., Barrett, P., Prendergast, B. J., & Stevenson, T. J. (2019). Genome sequencing and transcriptome analyses of the Siberian hamster hypothalamus identify novel mechanisms for seasonal energy balance. PNAS, 116(26), 13116-13121.