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Neurobiol Dis. 2013 Oct;58:57-67. doi: 10.1016/j.nbd.2013.05.007. Epub 2013 May 20.

The mitochondrial disease associated protein Ndufaf2 is dispensable for Complex-1 assembly but critical for the regulation of oxidative stress.

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Department of Neurology, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA 02115, USA.


Deficiency in human mitochondrial Complex-1 has been linked to a wide variety of neurological disorders. Homozygous deletion of the Complex-1 associated protein, Ndufaf2, leads to a severe juvenile onset encephalopathy involving degeneration of the substantia nigra and other sub-cortical regions resulting in adolescent lethality. To understand the precise role of Ndufaf2 in Complex-1 function and its links to neurologic disease, we studied the effects on Complex-1 assembly and function, as well as pathological consequences at the cellular level, in multiple in vitro models of Ndufaf2 deficiency. Using both Ndufaf2-deficient human neuroblastoma cells and primary fibroblasts cultured from Ndufaf2 knock-out mice we found that Ndufaf2-deficiency selectively reduces Complex-1 activity. While Ndufaf2 is traditionally referred to as an assembly factor of Complex-1, surprisingly, however, Ndufaf2-deficient cells were able to assemble a fully mature Complex-1 enzyme, albeit with reduced kinetics. Importantly, no evidence of intermediate or incomplete assembly was observed. Ndufaf2 deficiency resulted in significant increases in oxidative stress and mitochondrial DNA deletion, consistent with contemporary hypotheses regarding the pathophysiology of inherited mutations in Complex-1 disorders. These data suggest that Ndufaf2, unlike other Complex-1 assembly factors, may be more accurately described as a chaperone involved in proper folding during Complex-1 assembly, since it is dispensable for Complex-1 maturation but not its proper function.


Complex-1 assembly; Complex-1 disease; KO; Mitochondria; Mitochondrial DNA mutations; OCR; Oxidative stress; PBS; PVDF; ROS; WT; knockout; mitochondrial DNA; mtDNA; not significant; ns; oxygen consumption rate; phosphate buffered saline; polyvinylidene fluoride; reactive oxygen species; wildtype

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