, Volume 175, Issue 2, pp 77-85

Sodium pump molecular activity and membrane lipid composition in two disparate ectotherms, and comparison with endotherms

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Previous research has shown that the lower sodium pump molecular activity observed in tissues of ectotherms compared to endotherms, is largely related to the lower levels of polyunsaturates and higher levels of monounsaturates found in the cell membranes of ectotherms. Marine-based ectotherms, however, have very polyunsaturated membranes, and in the current study, we measured molecular activity and membrane lipid composition in tissues of two disparate ectothermic species, the octopus (Octopus vulgaris) and the bearded dragon lizard (Pogona vitticeps), to determine whether the high level of membrane polyunsaturation generally observed in marine-based ectotherms is associated with an increased sodium pump molecular activity relative to other ectotherms. Phospholipids from all tissues of the octopus were highly polyunsaturated and contained high concentrations of the omega-3 polyunsaturate, docosahexaenoic acid (22:6 (n−3)). In contrast, phospholipids from bearded dragon tissues contained higher proportions of monounsaturates and lower proportions of polyunsaturates. Sodium pump molecular activity was only moderately elevated in tissues of the octopus compared to the bearded dragon, despite the much greater level of polyunsaturation in octopus membranes. When the current data were combined with data for the ectothermic cane toad, a significant (P=0.003) correlation was observed between sodium pump molecular activity and the content of 22:6 (n−3) in the surrounding membrane. These results are discussed in relation to recent work which shows a similar relationship in endotherms.

Communicated by I.D. Hume