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Liposomes from mammalian liver mitochondria are more polyunsaturated and leakier to protons than those from reptiles.

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


Liposomes were prepared from phospholipids extracted from liver mitochondria of the rat (Rattus norvegicus) and an agamid lizard, the bearded dragon (Amphibolurus vitticeps) and liposome proton conductance was measured at an imposed membrane potential of 160 mV as well as the fatty acid composition of the liposomes. Despite presumed changes in fatty acid composition during liposome preparation, the mammalian liposomes had a significantly lower content of the monounsaturated oleic acid and a significantly greater content of the omega-3 polyunsaturated docosahexaenoic acid. There were significant direct correlations between the liposome arachidonic and docosahexanoic acid content and bilayer proton flux and a significant inverse correlation between liposome oleic acid content and bilayer proton flux. "Apparent valinomycin-catalysed proton flux" was significantly directly correlated with liposome docosahexaenoic acid content and inversely correlated with oleic acid content. It is suggested that the high content of long-chain polyunsaturates in the mammalian mitochondrial membrane is responsible for an increased proton leak across the mitochondrial inner membrane and thus partly responsible for the high metabolic rate in endothermic mammals compared to their ectothermic reptilian predecessors.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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