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Biosci Rep. 2008 Apr;28(2):83-8. doi: 10.1042/BSR20080002.

Stimulation of mitochondrial proton conductance by hydroxynonenal requires a high membrane potential.

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MRC Dunn Human Nutrition Unit, Wellcome Trust/MRC Building, Hills Road, Cambridge CB2 0XY, UK.


Mild uncoupling of oxidative phosphorylation, caused by a leak of protons back into the matrix, limits mitochondrial production of ROS (reactive oxygen species). This proton leak can be induced by the lipid peroxidation products of ROS, such as HNE (4-hydroxynonenal). HNE activates uncoupling proteins (UCP1, UCP2 and UCP3) and ANT (adenine nucleotide translocase), thereby providing a negative feedback loop. The mechanism of activation and the conditions necessary to induce uncoupling by HNE are unclear. We have found that activation of proton leak by HNE in rat and mouse skeletal muscle mitochondria is dependent on incubation with respiratory substrate. In the presence of HNE, mitochondria energized with succinate became progressively more leaky to protons over time compared with mitochondria in the absence of either HNE or succinate. Energized mitochondria must attain a high membrane potential to allow HNE to activate uncoupling: a drop of 10-20 mV from the resting value is sufficient to blunt induction of proton leak by HNE. Uncoupling occurs through UCP3 (11%), ANT (64%) and other pathways (25%). Our findings have shown that exogenous HNE only activates uncoupling at high membrane potential. These results suggest that both endogenous HNE production and high membrane potential are required before mild uncoupling will be triggered to attenuate mitochondrial ROS production.

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