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Biochim Biophys Acta. 2004 Jan 30;1608(1):1-9.

The gross structure of the respiratory complex I: a Lego System.

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  • 1Institut für Organische Chemie und Biochemie, Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg, Albertstr. 21, D-79104 Freiburg, Germany.

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  • Biochim Biophys Acta. 2004 Jun 28;1657(1):71.


The proton-pumping NADH:ubiquinone oxidoreductase, also called complex I, is the entry point for electrons into the respiratory chains of many bacteria and mitochondria of most eucaryotes. It couples electron transfer with the translocation of protons across the membrane, thus providing the proton motive force essential for energy-consuming processes. Electron microscopy revealed the 'L'-shaped structure of the bacterial and mitochondrial complex with two arms arranged perpendicular to each other. Recently, we showed that the Escherichia coli complex I takes on another stable conformation with the two arms arranged side by side resulting in a horseshoe-shaped structure. This model reflects the evolution of complex I from pre-existing modules for electron transfer and proton translocation.

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