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Under anoxia, Artemia franciscana embryos downregulate metabolic processes and approach an ametabolic state. Entrance into this quiescent state is accompanied by a profound acidification of the intracellular space, and more than two decades of research now clearly demonstrates that this acidification is critical to metabolic downregulation in anoxic embryos. However, the proximal mechanisms responsible for the pH shift remain largely unidentified. Here, we report evidence demonstrating expression of the V-ATPase in encysted embryos and present an argument for its involvement in the intracellular acidification induced by anoxia. We identified a single B-subunit cDNA sharing the greatest degree of sequence similarity with 'generalist-type' homologues from mammals (brain-type) and invertebrates. Quantitative analysis of B-subunit mRNA demonstrates differential expression throughout early development, and western blot analyses confirm the expression of at least six V-ATPase subunits in both heavy membranes and microsomal vesicles. The critical need for proton pumping during the anoxia-tolerant stage of development is demonstrated by incubation with the V-ATPase inhibitor bafilomycin A1, which halts embryonic development. Importantly, net proton flux from V-ATPase-acidified compartments to the surrounding cytoplasm is likely under anoxia and may significantly contribute to the enigmatic acidification critical to quiescence.

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Journal of Experimental Biology

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