Assessment of mitochondrial ADP-stimulated respiratory kinetics in PmFBs (permeabilized fibre bundles) is increasingly used in clinical diagnostic and basic research settings. However, estimates of the Km for ADP vary considerably (~20–300 μM) and tend to overestimate respiration at rest. Noting that PmFBs spontaneously contract during respiration experiments, we systematically determined the impact of contraction, temperature and oxygenation on ADP-stimulated respiratory kinetics. BLEB (blebbistatin), a myosin II ATPase inhibitor, blocked contraction under all conditions and yielded high Km values for ADP of >~250 and ~80 μM in red and white rat PmFBs respectively. In the absence of BLEB, PmFBs contracted and the Km for ADP decreased ~2–10-fold in a temperature-dependent manner. PmFBs were sensitive to hyperoxia (increased Km) in the absence of BLEB (contracted) at 30 °C but not 37 °C. In PmFBs from humans, contraction elicited high sensitivity to ADP (Km<100 μM), whereas blocking contraction (+BLEB) and including a phosphocreatine/creatine ratio of 2:1 to mimic the resting energetic state yielded a Km for ADP of ~1560 μM, consistent with estimates of in vivo resting respiratory rates of <1% maximum. These results demonstrate that the sensitivity of muscle to ADP varies over a wide range in relation to contractile state and cellular energy charge, providing evidence that enzymatic coupling of energy transfer within skeletal muscle becomes more efficient in the working state.

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