University of Oulu

Membranous core domain of Complex I and mitochondrial disease modeling

Saved in:
Author: Kervinen, Marko1,2
Organizations: 1University of Oulu, Faculty of Medicine, Department of Medical Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
2University of Helsinki, DDTC, Faculty of Pharmacy
Format: ebook
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 2.5 MB)
Persistent link:
Language: English
Published: 2006
Publish Date: 2006-05-30
Thesis type: Doctoral Dissertation
Defence Note: Academic Dissertation to be presented with the assent of the Faculty of Medicine, University of Oulu, for public discussion in Auditorium F101 of the Department of Physiology (Aapistie 7), on June 9th, 2006, at 12 noon
Reviewer: Docent Kirsi Huoponen
Docent Anu Wartiovaara


Human mitochondria contain a circular genome called mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA). It encodes subunits of the respiratory chain enzymes involved in energy conservation in oxidative phosphorylation and the necessary RNA needed for their expression. Errors in these genes have been shown to cause diseases, called mitochondrial diseases, which mainly affect tissues with high energy-demand, such as brain, heart, and skeletal muscle, or to lead to the production of harmful by-products in the form of reactive oxygen species (ROS) during cellular respiration. ROS damage lipids, proteins, and DNA, especially mtDNA. Accumulation of mtDNA mutations has also been associated with aging.

Mitochondrial complex I is located in the inner mitochondrial membrane and catalyzes NADH-ubiquinone oxidoreduction coupled to the translocation of four protons from the inside of the mitochondrion to the intermembranous space. Bacteria contain a homologous but simpler enzyme, NDH-1, with the same catalytic mechanism and which is therefore considered the catalytical core of mitochondrial complex I. Seven of the conserved membranous subunits in complex I are encoded in the mtDNA and are targets for mutations causing mitochondrial diseases, like MELAS syndrome or Leber hereditary optic neuropathy (LHON).

We used Paracoccus denitrificans and Escherichia coli NDH-1 enzymes to reveal the role of selected conserved charged residues and MELAS or LHON amino acid substitutions in enzyme catalysis. The growth phenotypes and NDH-1-dependent activities in mutant bacterial membranes were characterized, in addition to the sensitivity to selected complex I inhibitors. In order to enable ROS production measurements in the bacterial model of human mitochondrial diseases, we evaluated the reliability of two superoxide detecting probes, lucigenin and coelenterazine.

Elimination of the acidic residue in ND1 (position E228) previously found to cause MELAS, was found detrimental for NDH-1 assembly and activity. Also, elimination of the acidic residue at position E36 in ND4L resulted in an inactive enzyme. ND1-E216A, ND4L-E72Q and -E36Q/I39D/A69D/E72Q substitutions decreased NDH-1 activity somewhat (normal activity in the last mutant), but displayed a negative growth phenotype under NDH-1 dependent conditions, suggestive of impaired energy conservation in these mutants. ND1-Y229, whose substitution causes MELAS, charged residues in loop five of ND1, and ND1-E157, whose substitution causes LHON, were also found important for the enzyme activity.

Coelenterazine was found a reliable probe for quantitative superoxide production measurement in mitochondrial or bacterial membranes, and its sensitivity is not affected by the reduction level of the respiratory chain. Therefore, coelenterazine is suitable for quantitative superoxide production measurements.

see all

Series: Acta Universitatis Ouluensis. D, Medica
ISSN-E: 1796-2234
ISBN: 951-42-8118-7
ISBN Print: 951-42-8117-9
Issue: 882
Copyright information: © University of Oulu, 2006. This publication is copyrighted. You may download, display and print it for your own personal use. Commercial use is prohibited.