Author(s): Treberg JR
Some suborders of ascidians (sea squirts) accumulate remarkable levels of the heavy metal vanadium while others accumulate negligible amounts. The function of this vanadium is unclear, but enhanced pentose phosphate pathway (PPP) has been implicated in its reduction and accumulation. We compared aspects of intermediary metabolism in coelomic cells from ascidian species that have a wide range of vanadium accumulation including non-accumulators. All species appear to have similar aerobic poise with no apparent link to vanadium accumulation. Similarly, all species examined have a limited anaerobic poise that does not seem to relate to vanadium levels. Based on the activities of phosphoglucose isomerase and glucose-6 phosphate dehydrogenase we demonstrate that, relative to the capacity for entry into glycolysis, vanadium-accumulating species have enhanced capacity to metabolize glucose-6 phosphate via the PPP compared to non-accumulators. This finding provides the first comparative support for enhanced PPP capacity linked to vanadium accumulation in tunicates.