In adult mammalian ventricular tissue, mitochondrial creatine kinase (mi-CK), which is bound to the outer surface of the mitochondrial inner membrane, is functionally coupled to oxidative phosphorylation. This is shown, in saponin-permeabilized rat ventricular fibres, by a shift in the apparent Km of mitochondrial respiration for ADP from 300ŷ56 ƁM to 111ŷ40 ƁM (P < 0.001) on the addition of 25 mM creatine, due to a local accumulation of ADP close to the ATP/ADP translocator. We have found that, in atrial fibres, the apparent Km for ADP is high, but is not decreased by creatine, suggesting an absence of coupling in this tissue, as has previously been observed in smooth muscle. mi-CK is encoded by two different genes, which are expressed in a tissue-specific manner: the sarcomeric isoform is expressed in ventricular and skeletal muscles, while the ubiquitous isoform is expressed in smooth muscle, brain and other tissues. In order to determine whether a specific function can be attributed to the expression of a specific isoform, we investigated mi-CK mRNA expression by Northern blot analysis. Hybridization with synthetic oligonucleotides specific for each mi-CK isoform showed the expression of only the sarcomeric isoform in rat atria. This result was confirmed by PCR using primers specific for each isoform. In addition, electrophoretic analysis of CK isoforms showed no difference in the octamer/dimer ratio of mi-CK in the atria and ventricles. In atria, unlike the soleus or ventricles, the maximum potential rate of mitochondrial phosphocreatine synthesis was lower than the maximal rate of ATP production by the mitochondria. The total CK/adenylate kinase ratio was also lower in atria than in the other tissues, suggesting a greater contribution of adenylate kinase to adenine nucleotide compartmentation in this tissue. The functional differences between mi-CK in the two cardiac tissues seem to imply a specific arrangement of the proteins in the intermembrane space rather than the expression of specific isoforms.

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