UCP2, UCP3, avUCP, what do they do when proton transport is not stimulated? Possible relevance to pyruvate and glutamine metabolism.Biochim Biophys Acta. 2006 Sep-Oct; 1757(9-10):1284-91.BB
Uncoupling proteins (UCPs) are specialized members of the mitochondrial transporter family. They allow passive proton transport through the mitochondrial inner membrane. This activity leads to uncoupling of mitochondrial respiration and to energy waste, which is well documented with UCP1 in brown adipose tissue. The uncoupling activity of the new UCPs (discovered after 1997), such as UCP2 and UCP3 in mammals or avUCP in birds, is more difficult to characterize. However, extensive data support the idea that the new UCPs are involved in the control of reactive oxygen species (ROS) generation. This fits with the hypothesis that mild uncoupling caused by the UCPs prevents ROS production. Activators and inhibitors regulate the proton transport activity of the UCPs. In the absence of activators of proton transport, the UCP allows the permeation of other ions. We suggest that this activity has physiological significance and, for example, UCP3 expressed in glycolytic muscle fibres may be a passive pyruvate transporter ensuring equilibrium between glycolysis and oxidative phosphorylation. Induction of UCP2 expression by glutamine strengthens the proposal that new UCPs could act to determine the choice of mitochondrial substrate. This would obviously have an impact on mitochondrial bioenergetics and ROS production.