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J Exp Biol. 2011 Nov 15;214(Pt 22):3751-9. doi: 10.1242/jeb.058214.

Relationship between oxidizable fatty acid content and level of antioxidant glutathione peroxidases in marine fish.

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  • 1Ohio University, Department of Biological Sciences, Athens, OH 45701, USA.


Biological membranes can be protected from lipid peroxidation by antioxidant enzymes including catalase (CAT) and selenium-dependent glutathione peroxidases 1 and 4 (GPx1 and GPx4). Unlike GPx1, GPx4 can directly detoxify lipid hydroperoxides in membranes without prior action of phospholipase A(2). We hypothesized that (1) GPx4 is enhanced in species that contain elevated levels of highly oxidizable polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) and (2) activities of antioxidant enzymes are prioritized to meet species-specific oxidative stresses. In this study we examined (i) activities of the oxidative enzyme citrate synthase (CS) and antioxidant (CAT, GPx1 and GPx4) enzymes, (ii) GPx4 protein expression, and (iii) phospholipid composition in livers of five species of marine fish (Myxine glutinosa, Petromyzon marinus, Squalus acanthias, Fundulus heteroclitus and Myoxocephalus octodecemspinosus) that contain a range of PUFA. GPx4 activity was, on average, 5.8 times higher in F. heteroclitus and S. acanthias than in the other three marine fish species sampled. Similarly, activities of CAT and GPx1 were highest in S. acanthias and F. heteroclitus, respectively. GPx4 activity for all species correlates with membrane unsaturation, as well as oxidative activity as indicated by CS. These data support our hypothesis that GPx4 level in marine fish is a function, at least in part, of high PUFA content in these animals. GPx1 activity was also correlated with membrane unsaturation, indicating that marine species partition resources among glutathione-dependent defenses for protection from the initial oxidative insult (e.g. H(2)O(2)) and to repair damaged lipids within biological membranes.

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