The ability of preimplantation mouse embryos to utilize glucose oxidatively is controlled, in part at least, at the level of glycolysis. Various experimental observations are reviewed that indicate the regulatory mechanism in delayed implanting blastocysts involves the classic negative allosteric feedback of high levels of ATP on phosphofructokinase while the situation in 2-cell embryos appears to be more complicated. That is, in addition to the usual negative effect of ATP and citrate on phosphofructokinase, there appears to be a modification of hexokinase that prevents phosphorylation of adequate amounts of glucose and results in low levels of fructose-6-phosphate at the 2-cell stage and consequently there is a failure to release the inhibition of phosphofructokinase even if ATP and citrate levels decrease. Although both types of embryos have limited glycolytic activity, they do have adequate capacity for citric acid cycle activity and oxidative phosphorylation, and are able to maintain a high ATP : ADP. It is argued, therefore, that the reduced levels of macromolecular synthesis characteristic of 2-cell and delayed implanting blastocysts are not due to restricted energy substrates or regulatory controls on glycolysis and a subsequent low energy state. On the contrary, it seems that the reduction in oxidative utilization of glucose in these situations is a result of diminished energy demand because of the low level of synthetic activity. The potential significance of this relationship between energy production and utilization in terms of potential regulatory mechanisms in preimplantation embryos is discussed.
Volume 45, 2020
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