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Biochem J. 1975 Sep;150(3):477-88.

The maturation of the inner membrane of foetal rat liver mitochondria.


A new method was devised for the isolation of foetal and neonatal rat lvier mitochondria, giving higher yields than conventional methods. 2. During development from the perinatal period to the mature adult, the ratio of cytochrome oxidase/succinate-cytochrome c reductase changes. 3. The inner mitochondrial membrane of foetal liver mitochondria possesses virtually no osmotic activity; the permeability to sucrose decreases with increasing developmental age. 4. Foetal rat liver mitochondria possess only marginal respiratory control and do not maintain Ca2+-induced respiration; they also swell in respiratory-control medium in the absence of substrate. ATP enhances respiratory control and prevents swelling, adenylyl imidodiphosphate, ATP+atractyloside enhance the R.C.I. (respiratory control index), Ca2+-induced respiratory control and prevent swelling, whereas GTP and low concentrations of ADP have none of these actions. It is concluded that the effect of ATP depends on steric interaction with the inner mitochondrial membrane. 5. When 1-day pre-partum foetuses are obtained by Caesarean section and maintained in a Humidicrib for 90 min, mitochondrial maturation is "triggered", so that their R.C.I. is enhanced and no ATP is required to support Ca2+-dependent respiratory control or to inhibit mitochondrial swelling. 6. It is concluded that foetal rat liver mitochondria in utero do not respire, although they are capable of oxidative phosphorylation in spite of their low R.C.I. The different environmental conditions which the neonatal rat encounters ex utero enable the hepatic mitochondria to produce ATP, which interacts with the inner mitochondrial membrane to enhance oxidative phosphorylation by an autocatalytic mechanism.

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