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J Biol Chem. 1999 Jan 29;274(5):2625-30.

Three classes of inhibitors share a common binding domain in mitochondrial complex I (NADH:ubiquinone oxidoreductase).

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  • 1Universitätsklinikum Frankfurt, Institut für Biochemie I, D-60590 Frankfurt am Main, Federal Republic of Germany.


We have developed two independent methods to measure equilibrium binding of inhibitors to membrane-bound and partially purified NADH:ubiquinone oxidoreductase (complex I) to characterize the binding sites for the great variety of hydrophobic compounds acting on this large and complicated enzyme. Taking advantage of a partial quench of fluorescence upon binding of the fenazaquin-type inhibitor 2-decyl-4-quinazolinyl amine to complex I in bovine submitochondrial particles, we determined a Kd of 17 +/- 3 nM and one binding site per complex I. Equilibrium binding studies with [3H]dihydrorotenone and the aminopyrimidine [3H]AE F119209 (4(cis-4-[3H]isopropyl cyclohexylamino)-5-chloro-6-ethyl pyrimidine) using partially purified complex I from Musca domestica exhibited little unspecific binding and allowed reliable determination of dissociation constants. Competition experiments consistently demonstrated that all tested hydrophobic inhibitors of complex I share a common binding domain with partially overlapping sites. Although the rotenone site overlaps with both the piericidin A and the capsaicin site, the latter two sites do not overlap. This is in contrast to the interpretation of enzyme kinetics that have previously been used to define three classes of complex I inhibitors. The existence of only one large inhibitor binding pocket in the hydrophobic part of complex I is discussed in the light of possible mechanisms of proton translocation.

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