Molecular and Cellular Biochemistry

, Volume 208, Issue 1, pp 37-44

First online:

Human quadricepts muscle mitochondria: A functional characterization

  • Ulla F. RasmussenAffiliated withDepartment of Biochemistry, August Korgh Institute, University of Copenhagen
  • , Hans N. RasmussenAffiliated withDepartment of Biochemistry, August Korgh Institute, University of Copenhagen

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Human quadriceps mitochondria were isolated from ca. 80 mg tissue in ca. 45% yield. The preparation is described with respect to content of mitochondrial markers and nine different respiratory activities. The specific state 3 activities were high in comparison with literature data, indicating high integrity and purity of the preparation. Examples of state 3 rates, in µmol O min-1 g protein-1 (25°C): pyruvate + malate, 400; succinate, 514; malate + glutamate, 444. The notion of high integrity was also supported by the reproducibility of the preparation and the magnitude of the respiratory control ratios and the P/O ratios. The mitochondria most likely had lost ca. 30% of their cytochrome c upon isolation, but it was substantiated that this loss had not influenced the state 3 rates. Functional assays of single reactions or groups of reactions could be based on respiration experiments. The respiratory chain activity, for instance, was measured as respiration of NADH in freeze-permeabilized mitochondria (1263 μmol O min-1 g protein-1). Comparison of uncoupled rates of respiration and state 3 rates indicated that the ATP synthesis exerted major flux control over respiration of succinate + glutamate, malate + glutamate and pyruvate + malate. These reactions, showing very similar rates of ATP synthesis, could be used as a functional assay of ATP synthesis (1200 μmol ATP min-1 g protein-1). Respiration of succinate, palmitoyl-carnitine + malate, or glutamate could not support the maximal rate of ATP synthesis and the upstream reactions probably exerted major flux control in these cases. The specific activities appeared very constant in this group of young men, only the respiratory activity with glutamate might show biological variation.

skeletal muscle mitochondria respiration functional assays ATP synthesis metabolic regulation