This study investigated the developmental and nutritional programming of two important mitochondrial proteins, namely voltage dependent anion channel (VDAC) and cytochrome c in the sheep kidney, liver and lung. The effect of maternal nutrient restriction between early to mid gestation (i.e. 28 to 80 days gestation, the period of maximal placental growth) on the abundance of these proteins was also examined in fetal and juvenile offspring. Fetuses were sampled at 80 and 140 days gestation (term ~147 days), and postnatal animals at 1 and 30 days and 6 months of age. The abundance of VDAC peaked at 140 days gestation in the lung, compared with 1 day after birth in the kidney and liver, whereas cytochrome c abundance was greatest at 140 days gestation in the liver, 1 day after birth in the kidney and 6 months of age in lungs. This differential ontogeny in mitochondrial protein abundance between tissues was accompanied with very different tissue specific responses to changes in maternal food intake. In the liver, maternal nutrient restriction only increased mitochondrial protein abundance at 80 days gestation, compared with no effect in the kidney. In contrast, in the lung mitochondrial protein abundance was raised near to term, whereas VDAC abundance was decreased by 6 months of age. These findings demonstrate the tissue specific nature of mitochondrial protein development that reflects differences in functional adaptation after birth. The divergence in mitochondrial response between tissues to maternal nutrient restriction early in pregnancy further reflects these differential ontogeny’s
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