Comprehensive analysis of13 c6 glucose fate in the hypoxia-tolerant blind mole rat skin fibroblasts

Dmitry Miskevich, Anastasia Chaban, Maria Dronina, Ifat Abramovich, Eyal Gottlieb, Imad Shams

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The bioenergetics of the vast majority of terrestrial mammals evolved to consuming glucose (Glc) for energy production under regular atmosphere (about 21% oxygen). However, some vertebrate species, such as aquatic turtles, seals, naked mole rat, and blind mole rat, Spalax, have adjusted their homeostasis to continuous function under severe hypoxic environment. The exploration of hypoxia-tolerant species metabolic strategies provides a better understanding of the adaptation to hypoxia. In this study, we compared Glc homeostasis in primary Spalax and rat skin cells under normoxic and hypoxic conditions. We used the targeted-metabolomics approach, uti-lizing liquid chromatography and mass spectrometry (LC-MS) to track the fate of heavy Glc carbons (13C6 Glc), as well as other methodologies to assist the interpretation of the metabolic land-scape, such as bioenergetics profiling, Western blotting, and gene expression analysis. The metabolic profile was recorded under steady-state (after 24 h) of the experiment. Glc-originated carbons were unequally distributed between the cytosolic and mitochondrial domains in Spalax cells compared to the rat. The cytosolic domain is dominant apparently due to the hypoxia-inducible fac-tor-1 alpha (HIF-1α) mastering, since its level is higher under normoxia and hypoxia in Spalax cells. Consumed Glc in Spalax cells is utilized for the pentose phosphate pathway maintaining the NADPH pool, and is finally harbored as glutathione (GSH) and UDP-GlcNAc. The cytosolic domain in Spalax cells works in the semi-uncoupled mode that limits the consumed Glc-derived carbons flux to the tricarboxylic acid (TCA) cycle and reduces pyruvate delivery; however, it maintains the NAD+ pool via lactate dehydrogenase upregulation. Both normoxic and hypoxic mitochondrial homeostasis of Glc-originated carbons in Spalax are characterized by their massive cataplerotic flux along with the axis αKG→Glu→Pro→hydroxyproline (HPro). The product of collagen degradation, HPro, as well as free Pro are apparently involved in the bioenergetics of Spalax under both normoxia and hypoxia. The upregulation of 2-hydroxyglutarate production detected in Spalax cells may be involved in modulating the levels of HIF-1α. Collectively, these data suggest that Spalax cells utilize similar metabolic frame for both normoxia and hypoxia, where glucose metabolism is switched from oxidative pathways (conversion of pyruvate to Acetyl-CoA and further TCA cycle processes) to (i) pentose phosphate pathway, (ii) lactate production, and (iii) cataplerotic pathways leading to hexosamine, GSH, and HPro production.

Original languageEnglish
Article number734
Issue number11
StatePublished - 27 Oct 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.


  • Adaptation
  • Bioenergetics
  • GSH
  • Glucose
  • Hypoxia
  • Metabolome
  • Proline cycle
  • Spalax

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology


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