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Mitochondrion. 2002 Feb;1(4):327-38.

Heterogeneous distribution of pyruvate dehydrogenase in the matrix of mitochondria.

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Department of Biology and Institute of Molecular Biology, University of Oregon, Eugene, OR 97403, USA.


A fusion protein between GFP and the E1alpha subunit of the pyruvate dehydrogenase (PDH) complex was created and shown to assemble into functional PDH complexes using immunoprecipitation and activity assays. The expression of this GFP-E1alpha chimera is specific to mitochondria and results in two different fluorescence patterns. These patterns have been distinguished by immunolabeling experiments using monoclonal antibodies against PDH subunits and GFP. The bright, localized fluorescent spots represent the assembled form of the GFP-E1alpha in PDH complexes. The uniform, dim fluorescence is given by the unassembled chimera free to diffuse throughout the mitochondrial reticulum. This study reveals a discrete, heterogeneous distribution of PDH complexes in the matrix of mitochondria, both in cells with normal and reduced levels of PDH. The uneven arrangement of PDH complexes is maintained over time and most likely reflects the structural and metabolic compartmentalization of mitochondria.


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