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Eur J Biochem. 1986 Jul 1;158(1):159-65.

Synaptosomal bioenergetics. The role of glycolysis, pyruvate oxidation and responses to hypoglycaemia.


The bioenergetic interaction between glycolysis and oxidative phosphorylation in isolated nerve terminals (synaptosomes) from guinea-pig cerebral cortex is characterized. Essentially all synaptosomes contain functioning mitochondria. There is a tight coupling between glycolytic rate and respiration: uncoupler causes a tenfold increase in glycolysis and a sixfold increase in respiration. Synaptosomes contain little endogenous glycolytic substrate and glycolysis is dependent on external glucose. In glucose-free media, or following addition of iodoacetate, synaptosomes continue to respire and to maintain high ATP/ADP ratios. In contrast to glucose, the endogenous substrate can neither maintain high respiration in the presence of uncoupler nor generate ATP in the presence of cyanide. Pyruvate, but not succinate, is an excellent substrate for intact synaptosomes. The in-situ mitochondrial membrane potential (delta psi m) is highly dependent upon the availability of glycolytic or exogenous pyruvate; glucose deprivation causes a 20-mV depolarization, while added pyruvate causes a 6-mV hyperpolarization even in the presence of glucose. Inhibition of pyruvate dehydrogenase by arsenite or pyruvate transport by alpha-cyano-4-hydroxycinnamate has little effect on ATP/ADP ratios; however respiratory capacity is severely restricted. It is concluded that synaptosomes are valuable models for studying the control of mitochondrial substrate supply in situ.

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