, Volume 48, Issue 6, pp 557-564

Pathways for oxidative fuel provision to working muscles: Ecological consequences of maximal supply limitations

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The study of metabolic fuel provision and its regulation has reached an exciting stage where specific molecular events can be correlated with parameters of the organism's ecology. This paper examines substrate supply pathways from storage sites to locomotory muscle mitochondria and discusses ecological implications of the limits for maximal flux through these pathways. The relative importance of the different oxidative fuels is shown to depend on aerobic capacity. Very aerobic, endurance-adapted animals such as long distance migrants favor the use of lipids and intramuscular fuels over carbohydrates and circulatory fuels. The hypothesis of functional co-adaptation between oxygen and metabolic fuel supply systems allows us to predict that the capacity of several biochemical processes should be scaled with maximal oxygen consumption. Key enzymes, transmembrane transporter proteins, glucose precursor supply and soluble fatty acid transport proteins must all be geared to support higher maximal glucose and fatty acid fluxes in aerobic than in sedentary species.