Structure of the deactive state of mammalian respiratory complex I

15 Jan 2018

Complex I (NADH:ubiquinone oxidoreductase) is central to energy metabolism in mammalian mitochondria. It couples NADH oxidation by ubiquinone to proton transport across the energy-conserving inner membrane, catalyzing respiration and driving ATP synthesis. In the absence of substrates, ‘active’ complex I gradually enters a pronounced resting or ‘deactive’ state. The active-deactive transition occurs during ischemia and is crucial for controlling how respiration recovers upon reperfusion. Here, we set a highly-active preparation of Bos taurus complex I into the biochemically-defined deactive state, and used single-particle electron cryomicroscopy to determine its structure to 4.1 Å resolution. We show that the deactive state arises when critical structural elements that form the ubiquinone-binding site become disordered, and we propose reactivation is induced when substrate binding to the NADH-reduced enzyme templates their reordering. Our structure both rationalizes biochemical data on the deactive state, and offers new insights into its physiological and cellular roles.