Maintenance of skeletal muscle energy status during hibernation in ground squirrels, Spermophilus lateralis, was accompanied by a decrease in Na+K+-ATPase pump activity. Energy charge was maintained (0.89) during hibernation at the expense of total adenylates (decreased by 41%). Muscle Na+K+-ATPase activity was 9.1 U/mg protein in euthermic controls but decreased by 60% during hibernation. Enzyme activity was similarly suppressed in vitro when extracts of control muscle were incubated with ATP plus second messengers of protein kinases A, G or C whereas stimulation of protein phosphatases in muscle extracts from hibernators increased Na+K+-ATPase activity. Additional studies confirmed that suppression and reactivation of the enzyme in euthermic muscle extracts can be achieved with protein kinase A and alkaline phosphatase treatments, respectively, and indicated that phosphorylation changes the ATP dependency of the enzyme. Thus, hibernation-induced suppression of Na+K+-ATPase activity in muscle and other organs of ground squirrels, which is a key part of the overall suppression of metabolic rate that constitutes torpor, appears to be regulated via reversible protein phosphorylation.
Copyright 1999 Academic Press.