Freshwater turtles Trachemys scripta elegans endure prolonged severe hypoxia, and even complete anoxia, while diving or hibernating underwater. Metabolic adaptations supporting survival include the activation of glycogenolysis and glucose output from liver, as well as strong metabolic rate depression. The present study analyzes the enzymes of both the phosphorolytic (glycogen phosphorylase, phosphorylase b kinase, cAMP-dependent protein kinase) and glucosidic (α-glucosidase) pathways of glycogenolysis in turtle organs. Turtles were subjected to 5 hr of submergence in N2-bubbled water at 7°C and then activities of phosphorolytic and glucosidic enzymes were assayed in liver, heart, brain, and red and white skeletal muscle, and compared with aerobic controls. In vitro incubations also assessed protein kinase A control of phosphorolytic enzymes. A functional enzyme cascade system for the activation of glycogen phosphorylase was found in all organs, and both phosphorylase and phosphorylase kinase were stimulated by in vitro incubation with the catalytic subunit of cAMP-dependent protein kinase. Anoxic submergence led to significant increases in phosphorylase activities in liver and heart (phosphorylase a rose 2- and 2.5-fold, respectively) but phosphorylase kinase and protein kinase A activities in liver were reduced after 5 hr exposure. Both acidic (pH 4) and neutral (pH 7) forms of α-glucosidase were detected in all five organs with highest activities in liver. Activity of acid α-glucosidase, which degrades lysosomal glycogen, increased by 2-fold in liver during anoxic submergence. The data show that glycogen breakdown in turtle liver during anoxic submergence may result from coordinated activations of both the cytoplasmic phosphorolytic and the lysosomal glucosidic pathways of glycogenolysis.

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International Journal of Biochemistry and Cell Biology
Department of Chemistry

Mehrani, H. (Hossein), & Storey, K. (1995). Enzymatic control of glycogenolysis during anoxic submergence in the freshwater turtle Trachemys scripta. International Journal of Biochemistry and Cell Biology, 27(8), 821–830.