The sarcoplasmic reticulum Ca2+-ATPase is able to modulate the distribution of energy released during ATP hydrolysis, so that a portion of energy is used for Ca2+ transport (coupled ATPase activity) and a portion is converted into heat (uncoupled ATPase activity). In this report it is shown that T4 administration to rabbits promotes an increase in the rates of both the uncoupled ATPase activity and heat production in sarcoplasmic reticulum vesicles, and that the degree of activation varies depending on the muscle type used. In white muscles hyperthyroidism promotes a 0.8-fold increase of the uncoupled ATPase activity and in red muscle a 4-fold increase. The yield of vesicles from hyperthyroid muscles is 3–4-fold larger than that obtained from normal muscles; thus the rate of heat production by the Ca2+-ATPase expressed in terms of g of muscle in hyperthyroidism is increased by a factor of 3.6 in white muscles and 12.0 in red muscles. The data presented suggest that the Ca2+-ATPase uncoupled activity may represent one of the heat sources that contributes to the enhanced thermogenesis noted in hyperthyroidism.

Abbreviations used: T3, 3,5,3′-tri-iodo-l-thyronine; T4, l-thyroxine; SERCA, sarco/endoplasmic reticulum Ca2+-ATPase.

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