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Improved mitochondrial coupling as a response to high mass-specific metabolic rate in extremely small mammals

Abstract : Mass-specific metabolic rate negatively co-varies with body mass from the whole-animal to the mitochondrial levels. Mitochondria are the mainly consumers of oxygen inspired by mammals to generate ATP or compensate for energetic losses dissipated as the form of heat ( proton leak) during oxidative phosphorylation. Consequently, ATP synthesis and proton leak compete for the same electrochemical gradient. Because proton leak co-varies negatively with body mass, it is unknown whether extremely small mammals further decouple their mitochondria to maintain their body temperature or whether they implement metabolic innovations to ensure cellular homeostasis. The present study investigated the impact of body mass variation on cellular and mitochondrial functioning in small mammals, comparing two extremely small African pygmy mice (Mus mattheyi, similar to 5 g, and Mus minutoides, similar to 7 g) with the larger house mouse (Mus musculus, similar to 22 g). Oxygen consumption rates were measured from the animal to the mitochondrial levels. We also measured mitochondrial ATP synthesis in order to appreciate the mitochondrial efficiency (ATP/O). At the whole-animal scale, mass- and surface-specific metabolic rates co-varied negatively with body mass, whereas this was not necessarily the case at the cellular and mitochondrial levels. Mus mattheyi had generally the lowest cellular and mitochondrial fluxes, depending on the tissue considered (liver or skeletal muscle), as well as having more-efficient muscle mitochondria than the other two species. Mus mattheyi presents metabolic innovations to ensure its homeostasis, by generating more ATP per oxygen consumed.
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Mélanie Boël, Caroline Romestaing, Claude H. B. Duchamp, Frederic Veyrunes, Sabrina Renaud, et al.. Improved mitochondrial coupling as a response to high mass-specific metabolic rate in extremely small mammals. Journal of Experimental Biology, The Company of Biologists, 2020, 223 (5), pp.jeb215558. ⟨10.1242/jeb.215558⟩. ⟨hal-02506463⟩

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