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J Insect Physiol. 2008 Jun;54(6):1023-7. doi: 10.1016/j.jinsphys.2008.04.001. Epub 2008 Apr 7.

Suppression of Na+K+ -ATPase activity by reversible phosphorylation over the winter in a freeze-tolerant insect.

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Department of Chemistry, Institute of Biochemistry, Carleton University, 1125 Colonel By Drive, Ottawa, Ont., Canada K1S 5B6.


Larvae of the gall fly, Eurosta solidaginis, use the cold hardiness strategy of freeze tolerance as well as entry into a hypometabolic state (diapause) to survive the winter. Cold hardiness strategies have been extensively explored in this species, but the metabolic features of winter hypometabolism have received little attention. A primary consumer of energy in cells is the ATP-dependent sodium-potassium ion pump (Na(+)K(+)-ATPase) so inhibitory controls over transmembrane ion movements could contribute substantially to energy savings over the winter months. Na(+)K(+)-ATPase activity was quantified in larvae sampled between October and April. Activity was high in October (0.56+/-0.13nmol/min/mg) but fell by 85% in November, remained low through midwinter, and then increased strongly in April. To determine whether the seasonal change in Na(+)K(+)-ATPase activity was linked with posttranslational modification of the enzyme, extracts from 15 degrees C-acclimated larvae were incubated under conditions that stimulated protein kinases A, G, or C. The action of all three kinases suppressed Na(+)K(+)-ATPase activity to levels just 3-8% of control values whereas the opposite treatment with alkaline phosphatase had no effect. Hence, the seasonal suppression of Na(+)K(+)-ATPase activity may be linked to enzyme phosphorylation. Furthermore, acute cold (3 degrees C) or hypoxia exposures of 15 degrees C-acclimated larvae did not alter enzyme activity, and freezing at -16 degrees C increased activity, so environmental factors do not appear to directly influence enzyme activity. Rather, it appears that winter suppression of ion motive ATPase activity may be part of a program of winter metabolic suppression.

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