The chemical composition of mitochondria obtained from exponentially growing Neurospora can be varied by addition of choline or amino acids to the culture medium. The variation affects the phospholipid to protein ratio, and the density of mitochondria as determined by isopycnic centrifugation in sucrose gradients. These variations have been observed in biochemical mutant strains as well as wild type cultures. In a choline-requiring strain, two levels of choline supplementation to the medium have been defined: a low choline concentration just adequate to support maximal logarithmic growth, and a high choline concentration which permits maximal incorporation of radioactive choline into cellular lipids. Mitochondria isolated from cultures growing at the low choline concentration have one-half the phospholipid to protein ratio of those from high choline cultures, and their density is significantly higher. Artificial mixtures of the two types of mitochondria can be resolved into two populations by isopycnic centrifugation. The concentration of cytochromes (measured by mitochondrial difference spectra) and of malate and succinate dehydrogenases (measured by enzyme activity) were the same in both types of mitochondria, on a protein basis. The results suggest that during growth of the mitochondrial mass, the incorporation of phospholipid and protein components can vary independently. Direct kinetic measurements did indeed show that choline, added to a culture growing at low choline concentration, was incorporated into mitochondrial lipids at a rate faster than the incorporation of protein. The mitochondrial phospholipid to protein ratio can also be influenced by the level of leucine supplementation to a leucine-requiring mutant, so that with leucine concentrations above those required for maximal exponential growth, mitochondria of increasing density and decreasing phospholipid to protein ratio are produced. Additions of choline or amino acids to the minimal medium of wild type cultures influence mitochondrial composition in a manner directly comparable to that observed in biochemical mutant strains. The results suggest that mitochondrial composition, in general, is determined by rates of incorporation of the two major components, phospholipid and protein; that these rates can vary independently in response to precursor concentration in the culture medium; and that they normally operate at a precursor (substrate) concentration below saturation level.

This content is only available as a PDF.