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Biochemistry. 2008 Aug 26;47(34):8885-93. doi: 10.1021/bi800437g. Epub 2008 Jul 24.

Reduction of the iron-sulfur clusters in mitochondrial NADH:ubiquinone oxidoreductase (complex I) by EuII-DTPA, a very low potential reductant.

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


NADH:ubiquinone oxidoreductase (complex I) is the first enzyme of the mitochondrial electron transport chain. It contains a flavin mononucleotide to oxidize NADH, and eight iron-sulfur clusters. Seven of them transfer electrons between the flavin and the quinone-binding site, and one is on the opposite side of the flavin. Although most information about their properties is from EPR, the spectra from only five clusters have been observed, and it is difficult to match them to the structurally defined clusters. Here, we analyze complex I from bovine mitochondria reacted with a very low potential reductant, to impose a potential approaching -1 V. We compare the spectra with those from higher potentials and from the 24 kDa subunit and flavoprotein subcomplex, and model the spectra by starting from those with fewer components and building the complexity gradually. Spectrum N1a, from the 24 kDa subunit [2Fe-2S] cluster, is not observed in bovine complex I at any potential. Spectrum N1b, from the 75 kDa subunit [2Fe-2S] cluster, exhibits a lower potential than the N3, N4 and N5 spectra of three [4Fe-4S] clusters. In the lowest potential spectra an N5-type spectrum is observed at unusually high temperature (indicating a significant change to the cluster, or that two clusters have very similar g values), the relaxation rate of N1b increases (indicating that a nearby cluster has become reduced) and a new feature with an apparent g value of 2.16 suggests an interaction between two reduced clusters. The consequences of these observations for electron transfer in complex I are discussed.

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