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Free Radic Biol Med. 2002 Mar 1;32(5):421-30.

Control of oxygen free radical formation from mitochondrial complex I: roles for protein kinase A and pyruvate dehydrogenase kinase.

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  • 1The Hospital for Sick Children, Metabolism Research Programme, Toronto, ON, Canada.


Human NADH CoQ oxidoreductase is composed of a total of 43 subunits and has been demonstrated to be a major site for the production of superoxide by mitochondria. Incubation of rat heart mitochondria with ATP resulted in the phosphorylation of two mitochondrial membrane proteins, one with a M(r) of 6 kDa consistent with the NDUFA1 (MWFE), and one at 18kDa consistent with either NDUFS4 (AQDQ) or NDUFB7 (B18). Phosphorylation of both subunits was enhanced by cAMP derivatives and protein kinase A (PKA) and was inhibited by PKA inhibitors (PKAi). When mitochondrial membranes were incubated with pyruvate dehydrogenase kinase, phosphorylation of an 18kDa protein but not a 6kDa protein was observed. NADH cytochrome c reductase activity was decreased and superoxide production rates with NADH as substrate were increased. On the other hand, with protein kinase A-driven phosphorylation, NADH cytochrome c reductase was increased and superoxide production decreased. Overall there was a 4-fold variation in electron transport rates observable at the extremes of these phosphorylation events. This suggests that electron flow through complex I and the production of oxygen free radicals can be regulated by phosphorylation events. In light of these observations we discuss a potential model for the dual regulation of complex I and the production of oxygen free radicals by both PKA and PDH kinase.

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