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J Cell Biol. 2012 Oct 15;199(2):215-24. doi: 10.1083/jcb.201203090. Epub 2012 Oct 8.

The submitochondrial distribution of ubiquinone affects respiration in long-lived Mclk1+/- mice.

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Department of Biology, McGill University, Montréal, Canada.


Mclk1 (also known as Coq7) and Coq3 code for mitochondrial enzymes implicated in the biosynthetic pathway of ubiquinone (coenzyme Q or UQ). Mclk1(+/-) mice are long-lived but have dysfunctional mitochondria. This phenotype remains unexplained, as no changes in UQ content were observed in these mutants. By producing highly purified submitochondrial fractions, we report here that Mclk1(+/-) mice present a unique mitochondrial UQ profile that was characterized by decreased UQ levels in the inner membrane coupled with increased UQ in the outer membrane. Dietary-supplemented UQ(10) was actively incorporated in both mitochondrial membranes, and this was sufficient to reverse mutant mitochondrial phenotypes. Further, although homozygous Coq3 mutants die as embryos like Mclk1 homozygous null mice, Coq3(+/-) mice had a normal lifespan and were free of detectable defects in mitochondrial function or ubiquinone distribution. These findings indicate that MCLK1 regulates both UQ synthesis and distribution within mitochondrial membranes.

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