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Biochemistry. 2011 Apr 26;50(16):3386-93. doi: 10.1021/bi200264q. Epub 2011 Apr 1.

Role of subunit NuoL for proton translocation by respiratory complex I.

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


The NADH:ubiquinone oxidoreductase, respiratory complex I, couples the transfer of electrons from NADH to ubiquinone with a translocation of protons across the membrane. The complex consists of a peripheral arm catalyzing the electron transfer reaction and a membrane arm involved in proton translocation. The recently published X-ray structures of the complex revealed the presence of a unique 110 Å "horizontal" helix aligning the membrane arm. On the basis of this finding, it was proposed that the energy released by the redox reaction is transmitted to the membrane arm via a conformational change in the horizontal helix. The helix corresponds to the C-terminal part of the most distal subunit NuoL. To investigate its role in proton translocation, we characterized the electron transfer and proton translocation activity of complex I variants lacking either NuoL or parts of the C-terminal domain. Our data suggest that the H+/2e- stoichiometry of the ΔNuoL variant is 2, indicating a different stoichiometry for proton translocation as proposed from structural data. In addition, the same H+/e- stoichiometry is obtained with the variant lacking the C-terminal transmembraneous helix of NuoL, indicating its role in energy transmission.

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