In addition to the typical electron transport system (ETS) in animal mitochondria responsible for oxidative phosphorylation, in some species there exists an alternative oxidase (AOX) pathway capable of catalyzing the oxidation of ubiquinol and the reduction of oxygen to water. The discovery of AOX in animals is recent and further investigations into its expression, regulation, and physiological role have been hampered by the lack of a tractable experimental model organism. Our recent DNA database searches using bioinformatics revealed an AOX sequence in several marine copepods including Tigriopus californicus. This species lives in tidepools along the west coast of North America and is subject to a wide variety of daily environmental stresses. Here we verify the presence of the AOX gene in T. californicus and the expression of AOX mRNA and AOX protein in various life stages of the animal. We demonstrate that levels of the AOX protein increase in T. californicus in response to cold and heat stress compared to normal rearing temperature. We predict that a functional AOX pathway is present in T. californicus, propose that this species will be a useful model organism for the study of AOX in animals, and discuss future directions for animal AOX research.
McDonald, Allison; Tward, Carly E.; Cygelfarb, Willie; and Singh, Jaspreet, "Identification of the alternative oxidase gene and its expression in the copepod Tigriopus californicus" (2019). Biology Faculty Publications. 82.