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PLoS One. 2012;7(5):e36801. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0036801. Epub 2012 May 4.

Hypoxia-adaptation involves mitochondrial metabolic depression and decreased ROS leakage.

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Department of Medicine, University of California San Diego, San Diego, California, United States of America.


Through long-term laboratory selection, we have generated a Drosophila melanogaster population that tolerates severe, normally lethal, level of hypoxia. This strain lives perpetually under severe hypoxic conditions (4% O(2)). In order to shed light on the mechanisms involved in this adaptation, we studied the respiratory function of isolated mitochondria from the thorax of hypoxia-adapted flies (AF) using polarographic oxygen consumption while monitoring superoxide generation by electron paramagnetic resonance (EPR) techniques. AF mitochondria exhibited a significant 30% decrease in respiratory rate during state 3, while enhancing the resting respiratory rate during State 4-oligo by 220%. The activity of individual electron transport complexes I, II and III were 107%, 65%, and 120% in AF mitochondria as compared to those isolated from control flies. The sharp decrease in complex II activity and modest increase in complexes I and III resulted in >60% reduction in superoxide leakage from AF mitochondria during both NAD(+)-linked state 3 and State 4-oligo respirations. These results provide evidence that flies with mitochondria exhibiting decreased succinate dehydrogenase activity and reduced superoxide leakage give flies an advantage for survival in long-term hypoxia.

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