Kinetic properties, electrophoretic patterns and thermal stabilities of cytoplasmic malate dehydrogenases (cMDHs) were compared in Eastern Pacific barracuda (Sphyraena spp) from different latitudes. All tissues of the tropical species S. ensis contained only a single, thermostable form of cMDH. Subtropical (S. lucasana) as well as north (S. argentea) and south (S. idiastes) temperate barracuda contained both thermostable and thermolabile cMDHs, the pattern characteristic of most teleosts. Kinetic studies using unfractioned cMDHs showed that the apparent Michaelis­Menten constant (Km) of cofactor (NADH) increased with temperature, but at the physiological temperatures of the four species, Km of NADH was conserved within a narrow range (20­23 µmol l-1). Thermostable and thermolabile cMDHs were chromatographically separated and compared. Thermolabile cMDHs had higher Km values for NADH at all measurement temperatures than did thermostable cMDHs. Thermolabile cMDHs isolated from congeneric barracuda exhibited similar kinetic properties (Km versus temperature, optimal pH, optimal substrate and cofactor concentrations). Thermostable cMDHs, likewise, were similar among the barracuda. Conservation of Km in the differently thermally adapted barracudas is, therefore, apparently due to adjustments in the ratio of expression of the thermostable and thermolabile isoforms, rather than to temperature-adaptive differences among orthologous homologues, as is commonly found for enzymes encoded by a single gene locus. The effects of temperature on the Km of NADH for isolated thermostable and thermolabile cMDHs of a eurythermal goby, Gillichthys mirabilis, however, were consistent with adaptive change in orthologous homologues of cMDH. The selective basis for the absence of thermolabile cMDH in warm-adapted ectotherms, mammals and birds is discussed.

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