Journal Article

Stability of Mitochondrial Membrane Proteins in Terrestrial Vertebrates Predicts Aerobic Capacity and Longevity

Yasuhiro Kitazoe, Hirohisa Kishino, Masami Hasegawa, Atsushi Matsui, Nick Lane and Masashi Tanaka

in Genome Biology and Evolution

Published on behalf of Society for Molecular Biology and Evolution

Volume 3, issue , pages 1233-1244
Published in print January 2011 |
Published online August 2011 | e-ISSN: 1759-6653 | DOI:

More Like This

Show all results sharing these subjects:

  • Bioinformatics and Computational Biology
  • Evolutionary Biology
  • Genetics and Genomics


Show Summary Details


The cellular energy produced by mitochondria is a fundamental currency of life. However, the extent to which mitochondrial (mt) performance (power and endurance) is adapted to habitats and life strategies of vertebrates is not well understood. A global analysis of mt genomes revealed that hydrophobicity (HYD) of mt membrane proteins (MMPs) is much lower in terrestrial vertebrates than in fishes and shows a strong negative correlation with serine/threonine composition (STC). Here, we present evidence that this systematic feature of MMPs was crucial for the evolution of large terrestrial vertebrates with high aerobic capacity. An Arrhenius-type equation gave positive correlations between STC and maximum life span (MLS) in terrestrial vertebrates (with a few exceptions relating to the lifestyle of small animals with a high resting metabolic rate [RMR]) and negative correlations in secondary marine vertebrates, such as cetaceans and alligators (which returned from land to water, utilizing buoyancy with increased body size). In particular, marked STC increases in primates (especially hominoids) among placentals were associated with very high MLS values. We connected these STC increases in MMPs with greater stability of respiratory complexes by estimating the degradation of the Arrhenius plot given by accelerating mtRMR up to mt maximum metabolic rate. Both mtRMR and HYD in terrestrial vertebrates decreased with increasing body mass. Decreases in mtRMR raise MMP stability when high mobility is not required, whereas decreased HYD may weaken this stability under the hydrophobic environment of lipid bilayer. High maximal metabolic rates (5–10 RMR), which we postulate require high MMP mobility, presumably render MMPs more unstable. A marked rise in STC may therefore be essential to stabilize MMPs, perhaps as dynamic supercomplexes, via hydrogen bonds associated with serine/threonine motifs.

Keywords: vertebrate evolution; mitochondrial membrane protein stability; hydrophobicity; serine/threonine composition; aerobic capacity; longevity

Journal Article.  8015 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Bioinformatics and Computational Biology ; Evolutionary Biology ; Genetics and Genomics

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content. Please, subscribe or login to access all content.