(How) do animals know how much they weigh?

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Abstract

Animal species varying in size and musculoskeletal design all support and move their body weight. This implies the existence of evolutionarily conserved feedback between sensors that produce quantitative signals encoding body weight and proximate determinants of musculoskeletal designs. Although studies at the level of whole organisms and tissue morphology and function clearly indicate that musculoskeletal designs are constrained by body weight variation, the corollary to this - i.e. that the molecular-level composition of musculoskeletal designs is sensitive to body weight variation - has been the subject of only minimal investigation. The main objective of this Commentary is to briefly summarize the former area of study but, in particular, to highlight the latter hypothesis and the relevance of understanding the mechanisms that control musculoskeletal function at the molecular level. Thus, I present a non-exhaustive overview of the evidence - drawn from different fields of study and different levels of biological organization - for the existence of body weight sensing mechanism(s).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1275-1282
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Experimental Biology
Volume219
Issue number9
DOIs
StatePublished - May 1 2016

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Physiology
  • Aquatic Science
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Molecular Biology
  • Insect Science

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