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The interplay among cardiac ultrastructure, metabolism and the expression of oxygen-binding proteins in Antarctic fishes.

TitleThe interplay among cardiac ultrastructure, metabolism and the expression of oxygen-binding proteins in Antarctic fishes.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2000
AuthorsO'Brien, KM, Sidell, BD
JournalJ Exp Biol
IssuePt 8
Date Published2000 Apr
KeywordsAnimals, Antarctic Regions, Citrate (si)-Synthase, Cold Temperature, Electron Transport Complex IV, Energy Metabolism, Fishes, Hemoglobins, Hexokinase, Mitochondria, Heart, Myocardium, Myoglobin, Species Specificity

We examined heart ventricle from three species of Antarctic fishes that vary in their expression of oxygen-binding proteins to investigate how some of these fishes maintain cardiac function despite the loss of hemoglobin (Hb) and/or myoglobin (Mb). We quantified ultrastructural features and enzymatic indices of metabolic capacity in cardiac muscle from Gobionotothen gibberifrons, which expresses both Hb and Mb, Chionodraco rastrospinosus, which lacks Hb but expresses Mb, and Chaenocephalus aceratus, which lacks both Hb and Mb. The most striking difference in cellular architecture of the heart among these species is the percentage of cell volume occupied by mitochondria, V(v)(mit,f), which is greatest in Chaenocephalus aceratus (36.53+/-2.07), intermediate in Chionodraco rastrospinosus (20.10+/-0.74) and lowest in G. gibberifrons (15.87+/-0.74). There are also differences in mitochondrial morphologies among the three species. The surface area of inner mitochondrial membrane per volume of mitochondria, S(v)(imm, mit), varies inversely with mitochondrial volume density so that S(v)(imm,mit) is greatest in G. gibberifrons (29.63+/-1.62 microm(-)(1)), lower in Chionodraco rastrospinosus (21.52+/-0.69 microm(-)(1)) and smallest in Chaenocephalus aceratus (20.04+/-0.79 microm(-)(1)). The surface area of mitochondrial cristae per gram of tissue, however, is greater in Chaenocephalus aceratus than in G. gibberifrons and Chionodraco rastrospinosus, whose surface areas are similar. Despite significant ultrastructural differences, oxidative capacities, estimated from measurements of maximal activities per gram of tissue of enzymes from aerobic metabolic pathways, are similar among the three species. The combination of ultrastructural and enzymatic data indicates that there are differences in the density of electron transport chain proteins within the inner mitochondrial membrane; proteins are less densely packed within the cristae of hearts from Chaenocephalus aceratus than in the other two species. High mitochondrial densities within hearts from species that lack oxygen-binding proteins may help maintain oxygen flux by decreasing the diffusion distance between the ventricular lumen and mitochondrial membrane. Also, high mitochondrial densities result in a high intracellular lipid content, which may enhance oxygen diffusion because of the higher solubility of oxygen in lipid compared with cytoplasm. These results indicate that features of cardiac myocyte architecture in species lacking oxygen-binding proteins may maintain oxygen flux, ensuring that aerobic metabolic capacity is not diminished and that cardiac function is maintained.

Alternate JournalJ. Exp. Biol.
PubMed ID10729278
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