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Eur J Biochem. 1995 Jun 1;230(2):538-48.

Isolation and characterization of the proton-translocating NADH: ubiquinone oxidoreductase from Escherichia coli.

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Institut für Biochemie, Heinrich-Heine-Universität Düsseldorf, Germany.


The proton-translocating NADH:ubiquinone oxidoreductase (complex I) was isolated from Escherichia coli by chromatographic steps performed in the presence of an alkylglucoside detergent at pH 6.0. The complex is obtained in a monodisperse state with a molecular mass of approximately 550,000 Da and is composed of 14 subunits. The subunits were assigned to the 14 genes of the nuo operon, partly based on their N-terminal sequences and partly on their apparent molecular masses. The preparation contains one noncovalently bound FMN/molecule. At least two binuclear (N1b and N1c) and three tetranuclear (N2, N3 and N4) iron-sulfur clusters were detected by EPR in the preparation when reduced with NADH. Their EPR characteristics remained mostly unaltered during the isolation process. After reconstitution in phospholipid membranes, the preparation catalyses piericidin-A-sensitive electron transfer from NADH to ubiquinone-2 with Km values similar to those of complex I in cytoplasmic membranes but with only 10% of the Vmax value. The isolated complex I was cleaved into three fragments when the pH was raised from 6.0 to 7.5 and the detergent exchanged to Triton X-100. One of these fragments is a water-soluble NADH dehydrogenase fragment which is composed of three subunits bearing at least four iron-sulfur clusters (N1b, N1c, N3 and N4) that can be reduced with NADH, one of them bearing FMN. The second, amphipathic, fragment, which is presumed to connect the NADH dehydrogenase fragment with the membrane, contains four subunits and at least one EPR-detectable iron-sulfur cluster whose spectral properties are reminiscent of the eucaryotic cluster N2. The third membrane fragment is composed of seven homologues of the mitochondrially encoded subunits of the eucaryotic complex I. This subunit arrangement coincidences to some extent with the order of the genes on the nuo operon. A topological model of the E. coli complex I is proposed.

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