Transient heat release during induced mitochondrial proton uncoupling

Manjunath C. Rajagopal, Jeffrey W. Brown, Dhruv Gelda, Krishna V. Valavala, Huan Wang, Daniel Adolfo Llano, Rhanor Gillette, Sanjiv Sinha

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Non-shivering thermogenesis through mitochondrial proton uncoupling is one of the dominant thermoregulatory mechanisms crucial for normal cellular functions. The metabolic pathway for intracellular temperature rise has widely been considered as steady-state substrate oxidation. Here, we show that a transient proton motive force (pmf) dissipation is more dominant than steady-state substrate oxidation in stimulated thermogenesis. Using transient intracellular thermometry during stimulated proton uncoupling in neurons of Aplysia californica, we observe temperature spikes of ~7.5 K that decay over two time scales: a rapid decay of ~4.8 K over ~1 s followed by a slower decay over ~17 s. The rapid decay correlates well in time with transient electrical heating from proton transport across the mitochondrial inner membrane. Beyond ~33 s, we do not observe any heating from intracellular sources, including substrate oxidation and pmf dissipation. Our measurements demonstrate the utility of transient thermometry in better understanding the thermochemistry of mitochondrial metabolism.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number279
JournalCommunications biology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences
  • Medicine (miscellaneous)


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