Effects of thermal acclimation on the relaxation system of crucian carp white myotomal muscle

J Exp Zool. 1999 Aug 1;284(3):241-51.


Many cyprinid fish are able to compensate for a decrease in ambient temperature by process of physiological adaptation in the function of muscles. In the winter habitat of crucian carp (Carassius carassius L.), low temperature is associated with simultaneous oxygen shortage. Because of the oxygen deprivation, there is probably little space for compensatory adaptation because positive thermal compensation would increase energy demand and accelerate depletion of glycogen reserves. Thus, we assumed that the crucian carp, unlike many other cyprinid fish, would not show positive thermal compensation but either no compensation or inverse compensation in muscle function. To test this hypothesis in the relaxation system of skeletal muscles, we determined the parvalbumin content and the activity of sarcoplasmic reticular (SR) Ca-ATPase in white myotomal muscle of winter- and summer-acclimated crucian carp. In the laboratory, the winter fish were kept at 2 degrees C and the summer fish at 22 degrees C for a minimum of 3 weeks before the experiments. The specific activity of SR Ca-ATPase at low experimental temperature (2 degrees C) was similar in summer- and winter-acclimated fish (0.26 +/- 0.04 vs. 0.25 +/- 0.04 mM/mg/min; P > 0.05). Because of the bigger Q(10) of cold-acclimated carp, the enzyme activity at 30 degrees C was higher in cold-acclimated winter fish than in warm-acclimated summer fish (7.42 +/- 0.90 vs. 5.18 +/- 0.53 mM/mg/min; P < 0.05). In contrast, the yield of SR protein was 70% higher in summer than winter fish (0.315 +/- 0.045 vs. 0.187 +/- 0.017 mg/g; P < 0.001). Because of these opposing changes, total Ca-ATPase activity of SR (per gram muscle weight) remained relatively constant. Similarly, the parvalbumin content of the myotomal muscle was not different between summer (4.09 +/- 0.95 mg/g) and winter (3.70 +/- 0.60 mg/g) fish. Although there were no seasonal changes in the total relaxing system of the crucian carp white myotomal muscle, the same activity of SR Ca-ATPase in winter fish was obtained with less amount of SR pump protein, owing to the increased catalytic activity of the enzyme. The higher catalytic activity of winter fish SR Ca-ATPase might be caused by differences in fatty acid composition noted in membrane lipids; i.e., fewer saturated fatty acids and more n-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs), at the expense of n-3 PUFAs, were present in the SR of cold-acclimated winter fish. Temperature-induced changes in enzyme protein, however, cannot be excluded. Thus, the present results indicate the absence of positive thermal compensation in the relaxing system of crucian carp white muscle. It seems, however, that lipid composition of SR membranes and temperature dependence of SR Ca-ATPase are altered by seasonal acclimation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Physiological*
  • Animals
  • Calcium-Transporting ATPases / metabolism
  • Carps / physiology*
  • Fatty Acids / metabolism
  • Membranes / metabolism
  • Muscle Fibers, Fast-Twitch / physiology*
  • Muscle Relaxation / physiology*
  • Parvalbumins / metabolism
  • Sarcoplasmic Reticulum / enzymology
  • Temperature*


  • Fatty Acids
  • Parvalbumins
  • Calcium-Transporting ATPases