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Biochim Biophys Acta. 2006 Feb;1757(2):115-22. Epub 2006 Jan 6.

Riboflavin enhances the assembly of mitochondrial cytochrome c oxidase in C. elegans NADH-ubiquinone oxidoreductase mutants.

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Department of Biochemistry, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada T6G 2H7.


Mitochondrial respiratory chain dysfunction is responsible for a large variety of early and late-onset diseases. NADH-ubiquinone oxidoreductase (complex I) defects constitute the most commonly observed mitochondrial disorders. We have generated Caenorhabditis elegans strains with mutations in the 51 kDa active site subunit of complex I. These strains exhibit decreased NADH-dependent respiration and lactic acidosis, hallmark features of complex I deficiency. Surprisingly, the mutants display a significant decrease in the amount and activity of cytochrome c oxidase (complex IV). The metabolic and reproductive fitness of the mutants is markedly improved by riboflavin. In this study, we have examined how the assembly and activity of complexes I and IV are affected by riboflavin. Our results reveal that the mutations result in variable steady-state levels of different complex I subunits and in a significant reduction in the amount of COXI subunit. Using native gel electrophoresis, we detected assembly intermediates for both complexes I and IV. Riboflavin promotes the assembly of both complexes, resulting in increased catalytic activities. We propose that one primary pathogenic mechanism of some complex I mutations is to destabilize complex IV. Enhancing complex I assembly with riboflavin results in the added benefit of partially reversing the complex IV deficit.

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