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FEBS Lett. 2002 Jan 16;510(3):117-20.

Uncoupling proteins outside the animal and plant kingdoms: functional and evolutionary aspects.

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  • 1Laboratory of Bioenergetics, Institue of Chemistry, University of Li├Ęge, Belgium.


The appearance of intracellular oxidative phosphorylation at the time of acquisition of mitochondria in Eukarya was very soon accompanied by the emergence of uncoupling protein, a carrier specialized in free fatty acid-mediated H(+) recycling that can modulate the tightness of coupling between mitochondrial respiration and ATP synthesis, thereby maintaining a balance between energy supply and demand in the cell and defending cells against damaging reactive oxygen species production when electron carriers of the respiratory chain become over-reduced. The simultaneous occurrence of redox free energy-dissipating oxidase, which has the same final effect, could be related to the functional interactions between both dissipative systems.

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