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Biochem J. 2008 May 15;412(1):131-9. doi: 10.1042/BJ20080006.

Energization-dependent endogenous activation of proton conductance in skeletal muscle mitochondria.

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MRC Dunn Human Nutrition Unit, Hills Road, Cambridge CB2 0XY, UK.


Leak of protons into the mitochondrial matrix during substrate oxidation partially uncouples electron transport from phosphorylation of ADP, but the functions and source of basal and inducible proton leak in vivo remain controversial. In the present study we describe an endogenous activation of proton conductance in mitochondria isolated from rat and mouse skeletal muscle following addition of respiratory substrate. This endogenous activation increased with time, required a high membrane potential and was diminished by high concentrations of serum albumin. Inhibition of this endogenous activation by GDP [classically considered specific for UCPs (uncoupling proteins)], carboxyatractylate and bongkrekate (considered specific for the adenine nucleotide translocase) was examined in skeletal muscle mitochondria from wild-type and Ucp3-knockout mice. Proton conductance through endogenously activated UCP3 was calculated as the difference in leak between mitochondria from wild-type and Ucp3-knockout mice, and was found to be inhibited by carboxyatractylate and bongkrekate, but not GDP. Proton conductance in mitochondria from Ucp3-knockout mice was strongly inhibited by carboxyatractylate, bongkrekate and partially by GDP. We conclude the following: (i) at high protonmotive force, an endogenously generated activator stimulates proton conductance catalysed partly by UCP3 and partly by the adenine nucleotide translocase; (ii) GDP is not a specific inhibitor of UCP3, but also inhibits proton translocation by the adenine nucleotide translocase; and (iii) the inhibition of UCP3 by carboxyatractylate and bongkrekate is likely to be indirect, acting through the adenine nucleotide translocase.

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