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J Bioenerg Biomembr. 1997 Feb;29(1):71-80.

Proton pumping of mitochondrial complex I: differential activation by analogs of ubiquinone.

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  • 1Centre for Molecular Biology and Medicine, Monash University, Clayton, Victoria, Australia.


As part of the ongoing studies aimed at elucidating the mechanism of the energy conserving function of mitochondrial complex I, NADH: ubiquinone (Q) reductase, we have investigated how short-chain Q analogs activate the proton pumping function of this complex. Using a pH-sensitive fluorescent dye we have monitored both the extent and initial velocity of proton pumping of complex I in submitochondrial particles. The results are consistent with two sites of interaction of Q analogs with complex I, each having different proton pumping capacity. One is the physiological site which leads to a rapid proton pumping and a stoichiometric consumption of NADH associated with the reduction of the most hydrophobic Q analogs. Of these, heptyl-Q appears to be the most efficient substrate in the assay of proton pumping. Q analogs with a short-chain of less than six carbons interact with a second site which drives a slow proton pumping activity associated with NADH oxidation that is overstoichiometric to the reduced quinone acceptor. This activity is also nonphysiological, since hydrophilic Q analogs show little or no respiratory control ratio of their NADH:Q reductase activity, contrary to hydrophobic Q analogs.

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