• Dicrostonyx groenlandicus;
  • mitochondria;
  • oxygen consumption;
  • Northern blots;
  • uncoupling protein 3


Objective: To determine the gene sequence and tissue distribution of uncoupling protein 3 (Ucp3) in the collared lemming, we quantified mRNA expression of Ucp3 under known states of altered energy expenditure (photoperiod-induced weight gain and loss, cold exposure, and fasting) and measured mitochondrial oxygen consumption to assess possible functional changes in energy expenditure.

Research Methods and Procedures: The Ucp3 gene sequence information was obtained using the reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction and rapid amplification of cDNA ends methods. Northern blots were used to determine mRNA expression levels. Respirometry was used to measure oxygen consumption rates in isolated mitochondria.

Results: The lemming Ucp3 gene has a 97% sequence similarity with other published Ucp3 sequences at the amino acid level. Ucp3 mRNA is expressed in muscle, heart, and brown adipose tissue of collared lemmings. Long-photoperiod lemmings have a higher expression of Ucp3 mRNA than short-photoperiod lemmings (p < 0.001) in both muscle and brown adipose tissue. Transferring lemmings from long to short photoperiods (inducing weight gain) significantly decreased Ucp3 mRNA expression (p < 0.01), whereas transferring lemmings from short to long photoperiods (inducing weight loss) significantly increased Ucp3 expression (p < 0.001). Muscle Ucp3 mRNA expression was significantly decreased by 10 days of mild (10 °C) cold exposure (p < 0.001). Muscle Ucp3 mRNA expression was significantly increased by fasting (p < 0.01) and was correlated to plasma free fatty acid levels (r = 0.7). Photoperiod transfer did not alter mitochondrial coupling.

Discussion: These data suggest that UCP3 may not be involved in energy expenditure in the collared lemming.