Novel reptilian uncoupling proteins: molecular evolution and gene expression during cold acclimation
- The Royal Society
- Publication Type:
- Journal Article
- Proceedings of the Royal Society of London Series B-Biological Sciences, 2008, 275 (1637), pp. 979 - 985
- Issue Date:
Many animals upregulate metabolism in response to cold. Uncoupling proteins (UCPs) increase proton conductance across the mitochondrial membrane and can thereby alleviate damage from reactive oxygen species that may form as a result of metabolic upregulation. Our aim in this study was to determine whether reptiles (Crocodylus porosus) possess UCP genes. If so, we aimed to place reptilian UCP genes within a phylogenetic context and to determine whether the expression of UCP genes is increased during cold acclimation. We provide the first evidence that UCP2 and UCP3 genes are present in reptiles. Unlike in other vertebrates, UCP2 and UPC3 are expressed in liver and skeletal muscle of the crocodile, and both are upregulated in liver during cold acclimation but not in muscle. We identified two transcripts of UCP3, one of which produces a truncated protein similar to the UCP3S transcript in humans, and the resulting protein lacks the predicted nucleotide-binding regulatory domain. Our molecular phylogeny suggests that uncoupling protein 1 (UCP1) is ancestral and has been lost in archosaurs. In birds, UCP3 may have assumed a similar function as UCP1 in mammals, which has important ramifications for understanding endothermic heat production.
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