What role for membranes in determining the higher sodium pump molecular activity of mammals compared to ectotherms?

J Comp Physiol B. 1999 Jul;169(4-5):296-302. doi: 10.1007/s003600050224.


The major body organs of mammals have sodium pumps that turn over energy (ATP) three to four times faster than those of ectotherms, at the same temperature. To examine if membranes play a role in these differences in molecular activity, membrane cross-over experiments were performed using two representative species, Rattus norvegicus and Bufo marinus. Microsomal membrane of kidney and brain displayed characteristic molecular activity differences (three- to four-fold) between the species. These molecular activity differences could be removed by delipidation. Pre-existing molecular activities and differences could be restored when reconstituted with original membrane. Using the same reconstitution method, species membrane cross-over experiments resulted in toad sodium pumps in rat membrane significantly increasing (approximately 30-40%) and rat sodium pumps in toad membrane significantly decreasing (approximately 40%) activities in both kidney and brain. Analysis of membrane composition showed reduced cholesterol content and differences in the fatty acids of phospholipids with higher overall unsaturation in the mammal. The scope for membranes to determine protein performance and its broader implications for metabolism are discussed.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain / enzymology
  • Brain / metabolism
  • Bufo marinus
  • Cholesterol / metabolism
  • Fatty Acids / metabolism
  • Intracellular Membranes / enzymology
  • Intracellular Membranes / metabolism
  • Kidney / enzymology
  • Kidney / metabolism
  • Male
  • Membrane Lipids / metabolism
  • Microsomes / enzymology
  • Microsomes / metabolism
  • Phospholipids / metabolism
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Sodium-Potassium-Exchanging ATPase / metabolism*
  • Species Specificity


  • Fatty Acids
  • Membrane Lipids
  • Phospholipids
  • Cholesterol
  • Sodium-Potassium-Exchanging ATPase