Respiratory chain supercomplexes of mitochondria and bacteria

Biochim Biophys Acta. 2002 Sep 10;1555(1-3):154-9. doi: 10.1016/s0005-2728(02)00271-2.


Respiratory chain complexes are fragments of larger structural and functional units, the respiratory chain supercomplexes or "respirasomes", which exist in bacterial and mitochondrial membranes. Supercomplexes of mitochondria and bacteria contain complexes III, IV, and complex I, with the notable exception of Saccharomyces cerevisiae, which does not possess complex I. These supercomplexes often are stable to sonication but sensitive to most detergents except digitonin. In S. cerevisiae, a major component linking complexes III and IV together is cardiolipin.In Paracoccus denitrificans, complex I itself is rather detergent-sensitive and thus could not be obtained in detergent-solubilized form so far. However, it can be isolated as part of a supercomplex. Stabilization of complex I by binding to complex III was also found in human mitochondria. Further functional roles of the organization in a supercomplex are catalytic enhancement by reducing diffusion distances of substrates or, depending on the organism, channelling of the substrates quinone and cytochrome c. This makes redox reactions less dependent of midpoint potentials of substrates, and permits electron flow at low degree of substrate reduction.A dimeric state of ATP synthase seems to be specific for mitochondria. Exclusively, monomeric ATP synthase was found in Acetobacterium woodii, in P. denitrificans, and in spinach chloroplasts.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • ATP Synthetase Complexes / chemistry*
  • ATP Synthetase Complexes / isolation & purification
  • Animals
  • Bacterial Proton-Translocating ATPases / chemistry
  • Cardiolipins / chemistry
  • Cattle
  • Chloroplast Proton-Translocating ATPases / chemistry
  • Dimerization
  • Electron Transport Complex I
  • Electron Transport Complex III / chemistry
  • Humans
  • Mitochondria, Heart / enzymology
  • Mitochondrial Proton-Translocating ATPases / chemistry
  • Models, Molecular
  • NADH, NADPH Oxidoreductases / chemistry
  • Oxidation-Reduction
  • Oxidative Phosphorylation
  • Paracoccus denitrificans / enzymology
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae / enzymology


  • Cardiolipins
  • NADH, NADPH Oxidoreductases
  • ATP Synthetase Complexes
  • Bacterial Proton-Translocating ATPases
  • Chloroplast Proton-Translocating ATPases
  • Mitochondrial Proton-Translocating ATPases
  • Electron Transport Complex I
  • Electron Transport Complex III