Science News
from research organizations

Structure of mammalian protein complex of respiratory chain solved at atomic level

Date:
September 6, 2016
Source:
Institute of Science and Technology Austria
Summary:
The mitochondrial Complex I plays a central role in cellular respiration and energy metabolism. The ~1 Megadalton L-shaped protein complex is the largest protein assembly of the respiratory chain and now the largest asymmetric membrane protein assembly solved to date.
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This is the structure of mammalian protein complex of respiratory chain.
Credit: IST Austria, 2016

The respiratory chain is responsible for most energy production in humans. Several large protein assemblies are embedded in the mitochondrial lipid membrane. The mitochondrial Complex I is the first and largest complex in this chain. Metabolites derived from food are processed by this enzyme complex in order to contribute to the electron transfer and proton translocation. So far, research groups were only able to reveal mostly poly-alanine models lacking necessary full atomic details due to the fact that huge and complex molecules are difficult to examine with current methods. Cryo-electron microscopy made huge advances in recent years due to the development of new direct electron detectors, allowing high-resolution studies.

The resolution of the structure at an atomic level now allows the understanding of the intricate arrangements and interactions of all 45 subunits (14 conserved core and 31 mitochondria-specific supernumerary subunits) with implications for the coupling mechanism and its regulation. The insight into mechanism, assembly, maturation, and dysfunction of Complex I allows a detailed molecular analysis of disease-causing mutations and affected enzyme activity. Therefore the publication in Nature is expected to serve as reference source of information in medicine, bioenergetics and other research areas.

Leonid Sazanov, a Belarusian-British structural biologist, studied biophysics (B.Sc. and M.Sc.) at the Belarusian State University in Minsk and performed his doctoral studies at the Department of Biophysics at the Moscow State University where he remained as a research fellow in the group of Sergei V. Zaitsev. After continuing his research in groups at the University of Birmingham and at Imperial College in London, Sazanov joined the group of Nobel Laureate John E. Walker at the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge as a research associate. After his position as tenured program leader at the MRC Mitochondrial Biology Unit in Cambridge Leonid Sazanov joined IST Austria in April 2015 as Professor. The research group aims to understand the structure and function of membrane proteins and focuses on the determination of the structure and mechanism of respiratory complex I.


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Materials provided by Institute of Science and Technology Austria. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Karol Fiedorczuk, James A. Letts, Gianluca Degliesposti, Karol Kaszuba, Mark Skehel, Leonid A. Sazanov. Atomic structure of the entire mammalian mitochondrial complex I. Nature, 2016; DOI: 10.1038/nature19794

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Institute of Science and Technology Austria. "Structure of mammalian protein complex of respiratory chain solved at atomic level." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 6 September 2016. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/09/160906131616.htm>.
Institute of Science and Technology Austria. (2016, September 6). Structure of mammalian protein complex of respiratory chain solved at atomic level. ScienceDaily. Retrieved May 23, 2017 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/09/160906131616.htm
Institute of Science and Technology Austria. "Structure of mammalian protein complex of respiratory chain solved at atomic level." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/09/160906131616.htm (accessed May 23, 2017).

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