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The unique mitochondrial form and function of Antarctic channichthyid icefishes


, : The unique mitochondrial form and function of Antarctic channichthyid icefishes. Integrative and Comparative Biology 50(6): 993-1008

Antarctic icefishes of the family Channichthyidae are the only vertebrate animals that as adults do not express the circulating oxygen-binding protein hemoglobin (Hb). Six of the 16 family members also lack the intracellular oxygen-binding protein myoglobin (Mb) in the ventricle of their hearts and all lack Mb in oxidative skeletal muscle. The loss of Hb has led to substantial remodeling in the cardiovascular system of icefishes to facilitate adequate oxygenation of tissues. One of the more curious adaptations to the loss of Hb and Mb is an increase in mitochondrial density in cardiac myocytes and oxidative skeletal muscle fibers. The proliferation of mitochondria in the aerobic musculature of icefishes does not arise through a canonical pathway of mitochondrial biogenesis. Rather, the biosynthesis of mitochondrial phospholipids is up-regulated independently of the synthesis of proteins and mitochondrial DNA, and newly-synthesized phospholipids are targeted primarily to the outer-mitochondrial membrane. Consequently, icefish mitochondria have a higher lipid-to-protein ratio compared to those from red-blooded species. Elevated levels of nitric oxide in the blood plasma of icefishes, compared to red-blooded notothenioids, may mediate alterations in mitochondrial density and architecture. Modifications in mitochondrial structure minimally impact state III respiration rates but may significantly enhance intracellular diffusion of oxygen. The rate of oxygen diffusion is greater within the hydrocarbon core of membrane lipids compared to the aqueous cytosol and impeded only by proteins within the lipid bilayer. Thus, the proliferation of icefish's mitochondrial membranes provides an optimal conduit for the intracellular diffusion of oxygen and compensates for the loss of Hb and Mb. Currently little is known about how mitochondrial phospholipid synthesis is regulated and integrated into mitochondrial biogenesis. The unique architecture of the oxidative muscle cells of icefishes highlights the need for further studies in this area.

US$19.90

PMID: 21558255

DOI: 10.1093/icb/icq038


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