Regulation of the α-ketoglutarate dehydrogenasecomplex during hibernation in a small mammal, the Richardson's ground squirrel (Urocitellus richardsonii)

Biochim Biophys Acta Proteins Proteom. 2020 Sep;1868(9):140448. doi: 10.1016/j.bbapap.2020.140448. Epub 2020 May 20.


The citric acid cycle (CAC) is a central metabolic pathway that links carbohydrate, lipid, and amino acid metabolism in the mitochondria and, hence, is a crucial target for metabolic regulation. The α-ketoglutarate dehydrogenase complex (KGDC) is the rate-limiting step of the CAC, the three enzymes of the complex catalyzing the transformation of α-ketoglutarate to succinyl-CoA with the release of CO2 and reduction of NAD to NADH. During hibernation, the metabolic rate of small mammals is suppressed, in part due to reduced body temperature but also active controls that suppress aerobic metabolism. The present study examined KGDC regulation during hibernation in skeletal muscle of the Richardson's ground squirrel (Urocitellus richardsonii). The KGDC was partially purified from skeletal muscle of euthermic and hibernating ground squirrels and kinetic properties were evaluated at 5°, 22°, and 37 °C. KGDC from hibernator muscle at all temperatures compared with euthermic controls exhibited a decreased affinity for CoA as well as reduced activation by Ca2+ ions at 5 °C from both euthermic and hibernating conditions. Co-immunoprecipitation was employed to isolate the E1, E2 and E3 enzymes of the complex (OGDH, DLST, DLD) to allow immunoblot analysis of post-translational modifications (PTMs) of each enzyme. The results showed elevated phospho-tyrosine content on all three enzymes during hibernation as well as increased ADP-ribosylation and succinylation of hibernator OGDH. Taken together these results show that the KGDC is regulated by posttranslational modifications and temperature effects to reorganize enzyme activity and mitochondrial function to aid suppression of mitochondrial activity during hibernation.

Keywords: Citric acid cycle; Hibernation; Ketoglutarate dehydrogenase complex; Muscle; Post-translational modifications; Richardson's ground squirrel.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Coenzyme A / metabolism
  • Hibernation / physiology*
  • Ketoglutarate Dehydrogenase Complex / metabolism*
  • Ketoglutaric Acids / metabolism*
  • Kinetics
  • Mammals
  • Mitochondria / metabolism
  • Muscle, Skeletal / enzymology
  • Muscle, Skeletal / metabolism
  • Muscles / enzymology
  • Muscles / metabolism
  • Protein Processing, Post-Translational
  • Sciuridae / metabolism*
  • Temperature


  • Ketoglutaric Acids
  • Ketoglutarate Dehydrogenase Complex
  • Coenzyme A