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Membrane lipids and sodium pumps of cattle and crocodiles: an experimental test of the membrane pacemaker theory of metabolism.

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  • 1Department of Biomedical Science, University of Wollongong, Wollongong, NSW Australia 2522. bj.wu@unsw.edu.au

Abstract

The influence of membrane lipid composition on the molecular activity of a major membrane protein (the sodium pump) was examined as a test of the membrane pacemaker theory of metabolism. Microsomal membranes from the kidneys of cattle (Bos taurus) and crocodiles (Crocodylus porosus) were found to possess similar sodium pump concentrations, but cattle membranes showed a four- to fivefold higher enzyme (Na(+)-K(+)-ATPase) activity when measured at 37 degrees C. The molecular activity of the sodium pumps (ATP/min) from both species was fully recoverable when delipidated pumps were reconstituted with membrane from the original source (same species). The results of experiments involving species membrane crossovers showed cattle sodium pump molecular activity to progressively decrease from 3,245 to 1,953 (P < 0.005) to 1,031 (P < 0.003) ATP/min when subjected to two cycles of delipidation and reconstitution with crocodile membrane as a lipid source. In contrast, the molecular activity of crocodile sodium pumps progressively increased from 729 to 908 (P < 0.01) to 1,476 (P = 0.01) ATP/min when subjected to two cycles of delipidation and reconstitution with cattle membrane as a lipid source. The lipid composition of the two membrane preparations showed similar levels of saturated ( approximately 31-34%) and monounsaturated ( approximately 23-25%) fatty acids. Cattle membrane had fourfold more n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (11.2 vs. 2.9%) but had a reduced n-6 polyunsaturate content (29 vs. 43%). The results support the membrane pacemaker theory of metabolism and suggest membrane lipids and their polyunsaturates play a significant role in determining the molecular activity of the sodium pump.

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