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J Theor Biol. 1990 Jul 24;145(2):267-86.

The contribution of the leak of protons across the mitochondrial inner membrane to standard metabolic rate.

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Department of Biochemistry, University of Cambridge, U.K.


This paper presents and assesses the hypothesis that the proton leak across the mitochondrial inner membrane is an important contributor to standard metabolic rate, and that increases in the amount of mitochondrial inner membrane may be important in causing changes in proton leak and in the standard metabolic rate. The standard metabolic rate of an animal is known to be a function of body mass, phylogeny and thyroid status, and is largely attributed to the metabolically active internal organs. The total area of mitochondrial inner membrane in these organs correlates well with standard metabolic rate over a wide range of body masses in both ectotherms and endotherms. In hepatocytes isolated from rats, proton leak across the mitochondrial inner membrane accounts for about 30% of the resting oxygen consumption, and the distribution of control over respiration suggests that changes in mitochondrial inner membrane surface area will be accompanied by significant changes in the proton leak. This change in the leak will result in significant changes in resting oxygen consumption, but changes in ATP demand may also have a role to play in determining resting respiration rate. Extrapolation of these results to other tissues and other animals suggests that the hypothesis has the potential to explain a substantial proportion of the variation in standard metabolic rate with body mass, phylogeny and thyroid status. However, in most cases the quantitative contribution of proton leak compared to cellular ATP turnover has yet to be experimentally determined.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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