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Biochem J. 2004 Nov 1;383(Pt. 3):491-9.

Structural organization of mitochondrial human complex I: role of the ND4 and ND5 mitochondria-encoded subunits and interaction with prohibitin.

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UMR 5090 CNRS-DRDC, CEA Grenoble, 38054 Grenoble cedex 9, France.


Mitochondria-encoded ND (NADH dehydrogenase) subunits, as components of the hydrophobic part of complex I, are essential for NADH:ubiquinone oxidoreductase activity. Mutations or lack of expression of these subunits have significant pathogenic consequences in humans. However, the way these events affect complex I assembly is poorly documented. To understand the effects of particular mutations in ND subunits on complex I assembly, we studied four human cell lines: ND4 non-expressing cells, ND5 non-expressing cells, and rho degrees cells that do not express any ND subunits, in comparison with normal complex I control cells. In control cells, all the seven analysed nuclear-encoded complex I subunits were found to be attached to the mitochondrial inner membrane, except for the 24 kDa subunit, which was nearly equally partitioned between the membranes and the matrix. Absence of a single ND subunit, or even all the seven ND subunits, caused no major changes in the nuclear-encoded complex I subunit content of mitochondria. However, in cells lacking ND4 or ND5, very low amounts of 24 kDa subunit were found associated with the membranes, whereas most of the other nuclear-encoded subunits remained attached. In contrast, membrane association of most of the nuclear subunits was significantly reduced in the absence of all seven ND proteins. Immunopurification detected several subcomplexes. One of these, containing the 23, 30 and 49 kDa subunits, also contained prohibitin. This is the first description of prohibitin interaction with complex I subunits and suggests that this protein might play a role in the assembly or degradation of mitochondrial complex I.

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