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Eur J Biochem. 2002 Jun;269(12):2878-84.

Expression of uncoupling protein-3 in subsarcolemmal and intermyofibrillar mitochondria of various mouse muscle types and its modulation by fasting.

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Department of Medical Biochemistry, Faculty of Medicine, University of Geneva, Switzerland.


Uncoupling protein-3 (UCP3) is a mitochondrial inner-membrane protein abundantly expressed in rodent and human skeletal muscle which may be involved in energy dissipation. Many studies have been performed on the metabolic regulation of UCP3 mRNA level, but little is known about UCP3 expression at the protein level. Two populations of mitochondria have been described in skeletal muscle, subsarcolemmal (SS) and intermyofibrillar (IMF), which differ in their intracellular localization and possibly also their metabolic role. To examine if UCP3 is differentially expressed in these two populations and in different mouse muscle types, we developed a new protocol for isolation of SS and IMF mitochondria and carefully validated a new UCP3 antibody. The data show that the density of UCP3 is higher in the mitochondria of glycolytic muscles (tibialis anterior and gastrocnemius) than in those of oxidative muscle (soleus). They also show that SS mitochondria contain more UCP3 per mg of protein than IMF mitochondria. Taken together, these results suggest that oxidative muscle and the mitochondria most closely associated with myofibrils are most efficient at producing ATP. We then determined the effect of a 24-h fast, which greatly increases UCP3 mRNA (16.4-fold) in muscle, on UCP3 protein expression in gastrocnemius mitochondria. We found that fasting moderately increases (1.5-fold) or does not change UCP3 protein in gastrocnemius SS or IMF mitochondria, respectively. These results show that modulation of UCP3 expression at the mRNA level does not necessarily result in similar changes at the protein level and indicate that UCP3 density in SS and IMF mitochondria can be differently affected by metabolic changes.

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