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Skeletal muscle metabolism in sea-acclimatized king penguins. II. Improved efficiency of mitochondrial bioenergetics

Abstract : At fledging, juvenile king penguins (Aptenodytes patagonicus) must overcome the tremendous energetic constraints imposed by their marine habitat, including during sustained extensive swimming activity and deep dives in cold seawater. Both endurance swimming and skeletal muscle thermogenesis require high mitochondrial respiratory capacity while the submerged part of dive cycles repeatedly and greatly reduces oxygen availability, imposing a need for solutions to conserve oxygen. The aim of the present study was to determine in vitro whether skeletal muscle mitochondria become more ‘thermogenic’ to sustain heat production or more ‘economical’ to conserve oxygen in sea-acclimatized immature penguins (hereafter ‘immatures’) compared with terrestrial juveniles. Rates of mitochondrial oxidative phosphorylation were measured in permeabilized fibers and mitochondria from the pectoralis muscle. Mitochondrial ATP synthesis and coupling efficiency were measured in isolated muscle mitochondria. The mitochondrial activities of respiratory chain complexes and citrate synthase were also assessed. The results showed that respiration, ATP synthesis and respiratory chain complex activities in pectoralis muscles were increased by sea acclimatization. Furthermore, muscle mitochondria were on average 30–45% more energy efficient in sea-acclimatized immatures than in pre-fledging juveniles, depending on the respiratory substrate used (pyruvate, palmitoylcarnitine). Hence sea acclimatization favors the development of economical management of oxygen, decreasing the oxygen needed to produce a given amount of ATP. This mitochondrial phenotype may improve dive performance during the early marine life of king penguins, by extending their aerobic dive limit.
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Submitted on : Tuesday, November 10, 2020 - 3:52:07 PM
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Damien Roussel, Vincent Marmillot, Pierre-Axel Monternier, Aurore Bourguignon, Gaëlle Toullec, et al.. Skeletal muscle metabolism in sea-acclimatized king penguins. II. Improved efficiency of mitochondrial bioenergetics. Journal of Experimental Biology, Cambridge University Press, 2020, 223 (21), pp.jeb233684. ⟨10.1242/jeb.233684⟩. ⟨hal-02998668⟩



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